The ability of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to detect airborne pollution following hurricanes and other disasters has taken a significant stride forward with a series of additions and enhancements to its emergency response assets, officials announced this week.
State lawmakers approved nearly $1 million in 2019 to upgrade two existing TCEQ mobile air monitoring vans and purchase a third – a SMART (Strategic Mobile Air Reconnaissance Technology) Rapid Assessment Survey van – that allows the agency to greatly expand the number of pollutants it monitors and more quickly analyze results.
All three vehicles will help TCEQ better monitor air quality in densely industrialized areas like the Houston Ship Channel, the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, and Corpus Christi’s Refinery Row.
TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker said the infusion of funds marks “a significant investment in proven technology” that will aid investigators’ efforts to locate concentrations of emissions following hurricanes, fires, and other disasters.
“This is cutting-edge technology,” added Cory Chism, Deputy Director of the Monitoring Division in TCEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement. “These vehicles are nimble and sophisticated.”