The trouble began in the middle of the night.
Around 2 a.m. on January 10, 2017, an air quality monitor in Port Arthur, Texas, began recording sulfur dioxide readings well above the federal standard of 75 parts per billion, or ppb.
The monitor had recently been installed by regulators to keep an eye on Oxbow Calcining, a company owned by William “Bill” Koch that operates massive plants that purify petcoke, a petroleum byproduct that can be used to power steel and aluminum manufacturing.
That Tuesday morning, the wind shifted due north and carried a noxious slew of emissions from the plant a half-mile away to the monitor. By 2:20 a.m., the monitor was reading 122.3 ppb.
3:30 a.m.: 128.7 ppb.
5:00 a.m.: 147.8 ppb — almost double the federal standard.
By the afternoon, emissions readings had topped the public health standard 25 times. For the next 18 months, they would periodically flood the 55,000-person city with a pungent
— source grist.org | Naveena Sadasivam, Clayton Aldern | Feb 16, 2023