MNN Galleries

The 7 worst neighborhoods near refineries

By: Shea Gunther on Feb. 3, 2010, 12:40 p.m.
Beaumont, Texas

Photo: rcbodden/Flickr

3 of 9

Beaumont, Texas

Beaumont, Texas, is located right off the Gulf of Mexico, as are most of the state's refineries. The small city of 113,000 is close to Spindletop, the world's first major oil field and one of the largest in American history. As Spindletop grew oil pumps, Beaumont grew refinery capacity.

Today, the town is home to ExxonMobil's Beaumont Refinery, the nation's sixth largest and capable of processing 334,500 barrels of oil per day. According to the Toxic Texas Tour website, about 45% percent of Beaumont residents are African-American, mostly poor and lack resources to fight against refinery spills, fires and explosions. The refinery is regularly listed as one of the nation's most polluting, and residents have reported headaches and other health problems for years. It's standard operating procedure for refineries to dump tons of chemicals into the storm drains ahead of hurricanes.

Update: This caption originally stated the African American community near Beaumont was 95%. That figure was incorrect.