GALENA PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- Trucks create exhaust, and plants refine chemicals- a combination that could make the community in Galena Park likely experience poor air quality.
"They are all things that can cause problems, health issues, asthma, exacerbate COPD, exacerbate heart failure, all those kinds of things," Galena Park Fire Chief Tom Elhers said.
Following the 2019 ITC plant explosion, community leaders knew it was time to take air quality testing and safety alerts into their own hands.
The city paid around $45,000 for a system that will monitor air quality in real-time and be able to alert emergency management right away when the air quality is dangerous, what kind of chemical it is, and more.
"It will tell us what direction these pollutants are coming from to understand better how we can protect our citizens," Elhers said.
This real-time alert is vital. The state and county monitor systems are currently in place but only cover some of Galena Park, and Elhers said there is a lag in the data.
Because someone has to review all the data, if a dangerous chemical is detected, you might not know about it the same day.
The new system is managed and operated by Galena Park, and it works in real-time. If a dangerous chemical is detected, it will send an alert to emergency management, who can immediately alert residents about what is happening and what to do.
"This lets us do a mass notification," Elhers said.
The city also partnered with scientists at Texas A&M who will take the collected data and interpret it
"This will help us figure out what we need to do in the future," Elhers said. The system will also protect Galena Park and surrounding communities.
"What happens here in Galena Park affects people in Jacinto City. It affects people in the northeastern part of the county. North of us, west of us, depending on what direction the wind is blowing," Elhers said.
The city announced the system on Earth Day, but it won't be operational for the next few weeks.