Environmental justice and refinery pollution: benzene monitoring around oil refineries found more communities at risk in 2020

Cancer-causing benzene from oil refineries escaping into mostly minority and lower income neighborhoods exceeded the federal action level for 13 refineries across the U.S. in 2020, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than 530,000 people live within three miles of the 13 refineries in 2020, with 57 percent being people of color and 43 percent living below the poverty line, according to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project, “Environmental Justice and Refinery Pollution.” The benzene figures for these refineries excluded emissions from offsite sources.