Demand Cleanup of Toxic Plume

Flammable toxic plume

Target: Ron Curry, Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s South Central Region

Goal: Clean up flammable and toxic plume situated underneath 200 families in McAllen, Texas

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has known about the dangerous toxic plume threatening the citizens of McAllen, Texas for years. The plume leaks the known carcinogen, benzene. Cleanup has been stalled for decades because the cause of the contamination could be linked to three companies and not all companies are willing to pay for the pollution. Help the citizens of McAllen live without fear of explosion or disease by demanding a much awaited cleanup.

The toxic plume lives underground on top of the groundwater. Although citizens of McAllen do not drink the groundwater, the plume leaks benzene as well as proves to be extremely flammable. Benzene is a colorless liquid that can leak into the soil and evaporate to reach homes and families. This toxin is linked to crude oil and gas. In the opinion of locals, the benzene has affected the health of many neighbors with cancer and leukemia. These diseases are big hits but another risk looms below the surface. The plume is highly explosive. This town could see the same fate as Guadalajara, Mexico in 1992. Also situated underneath a toxic plume, Guadalajara’s underground contamination triggered numerous explosions by the plume’s leak into the sewer systems. This event caused 252 deaths and nearly 15,000 homeless victims.

The town of McAllen has known about the plume since 1992 but cleanup has been stalled because the lack of funds. The companies involved have been playing the blame game for decades. Three causes may have lead up to the plume: natural gas pipeline leaks, spilled fuel from trains, and leaking of underground fuel tanks by a local gas station. Since the causes are varied, the jurisdiction lays between the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Union Pacific, a railroad company, takes partial blame but the plume’s substance derives from natural gas condensate, not refined gas. The natural gas company, XTO Energy, does not believe their pipeline has caused such contamination but previous reports in the area have proven the pipeline has had past holes and leaks.

By signing this petition, you are demanding the cleanup of the deadly plume of toxins living under McAllen, Texas. Urge Ron Curry, the EPA Administrator for this region, to evaluate all suspects in fault to finally resolve this devastating environmental mishap.


Dear Administrator Curry,

The citizens of McAllen, Texas have been living above a flammable, toxic plume for decades with no help from the state government for cleanup. The sources of contamination vary from train gas leaks, underground fuel tank leaks, and leaks from a natural gas pipeline. Benzene, a known carcinogen, is prominent in the plume. This toxin derives from natural gas condensate. With the risk of disease as well as a deadly explosion, the citizens of this Texas town deserve the well-awaited cleanup. More ignorance of the issue will result in a future like Guadalajara, Mexico. This town experienced a plume explosion in 1992, resulting in 252 deaths and over 15,000 homeless.

I strongly urge you to demand a cleanup of the toxic plume by finalizing the players at fault: the natural gas pipeline company XTO Energy, Union Pacific Railroad Company, and Coastal Corporation. These three are all suspected culprits to blame for the plume. Please take action for the health and prosperity of McAllen, Texas.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit:  Eli Duke via Flickr

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