Bruni – The Bruni Community Center was a packed house Wednesday, Feb. 1 as people gathered to discuss issues and concerns about the upcoming Raven Petroleum refinery in Duval County.

According to South Texans Against the Refinery (STAR) Coalition Tricia Cortez, the meeting's purpose was to voice concerns over the proposed refinery including pollution, threats to the land and wildlife, and the health of the people who live near the area.

The STAR Coalition has formed to oppose the newly proposed Raven Petroleum refinery in Duval County.

“This is the first step to making the community aware of the information that we have as well as the information we don't have,” Cortez said.

STAR includes residents, landowners, ranchers, and organizations concerned that Raven Petroleum's proposed project in the tri-county area (Duval, Webb, and Jim Hogg counties) will cause numerous health and environmental risks that would threaten local communities including Bruni, Mirando City, Oilton, Aguilares, and Hebbronville.

Raven Petroleum has not provided any information about the environmental impact studies, economic feasibility reports, or permit application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to reference, leaving many unanswered questions, Cortez said.

The Raven Petroleum refinery that is expected to bring at least 1,500 jobs to the area, according to Duval County officials.

“We are all for jobs,” Cortez stated. “But we also have the right to be fully informed about everything concerning the refinery.”

Approximately 110 people from Bruni, Hebbronville, Duval County and other surrounding communities attended the meeting.

Major concerns discussed were the lack of transparency, lack of information available, pollution and how no permits have been attained to start building.

According to Cortez, the coalition was informed that the health impact zone was five to 10 miles downwind of the refinery by experts which is a major concern for the students who attend Bruni Middle and High School who are four miles down wind.

The $500 million refinery is expected to take two years to construct.

Raven Petroleum's refinery will be constructed in the southwest corner just outside of Laredo, Texas, off Highway 359 and would be the first refinery built in the United States since the early 1970s.

The refinery will have the capability to refine 50,000 barrels per day producing fuel, gasoline, jet fuel LPG gas products and naphtha. The refinery will sit on 832 acres. It will have storage tank capacity of up to 4 million barrels, a rail terminal infrastructure with approximately 20 miles of internal track and the design of the refinery will allow two inbound and two outbound units per day.

According to the San Antonio Business Journal, “Raven Petroleum is moving forward with plans to build a refinery in deep South Texas after tapping a general contract to build and a geothermal company to power it.”

“A town hall meeting with environmental and medical experts is planned in early March,” Cortez said.