Petrochemical Industry

Products derived from oil and natural gas are the base of the giant Texas petrochemical industry. The need for synthetic rubber and synthetic chemicals for explosives during World War II led to the development of the highly specialized petrochemical industry in Texas.

After 1952, the state's share in the American petrochemical industry increased dramatically. During the 1960s Texas played a role in all phases of the petrochemical industry: furnishing and processing oil and gas, producing petrochemicals, and manufacturing commercial commodities. By 1965, 200 petrochemical plants in Texas processed such basic petrochemicals used in the plastic, rubber, and synthetic fiber industries.

The Texas Gulf Coast petrochemical complex dominated the American production capacity of several basic petrochemical gasses and liquids. In 1965, Texas supplied more than half of the national production of carbon black, used in tires, printing ink, plastics, pigments, and fertilizers.

In all, Texas supplied 40 percent of all basic petrochemicals produced in the United States by 1969.

Although the chemical and petrochemical industry brought economic benefits, they also brought environmental problems. By the late 1970s, Texas was ranked sixth in the nation in annual output of chemical waste. In the early 1980s the Environmental Protection Agency listed fourteen disposal sites in Texas as potential environmental hazards. Petrochemical companies released fumes and gases into the atmosphere that caused cancer in plant employees and in residents living near plants. There is also risk for industrial accidents.

Source: Petrochemical Industry

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