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Troubled Chalmette Refining Stinks Up Metro Area: Accident Prone Refinery Confirmed as Source of Chemical

April 4th, 2013

April 4, 2013                                  For Immediate Release

Press conference at 10:15 am - Thursday, April 4th
4226 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA

Contact:          Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, 504.452.4909

Troubled Chalmette Refining Stinks Up Metro Area
Accident Prone Refinery Confirmed as Source of Chemical


(New Orleans) Another accident at Exxon’s notorious Chalmette Refinery was responsible for the chemical exposure suffered yesterday throughout the metro area. Confirmation comes from the Coast Guard’s incident command. ExxonMobil’s Chalmette Refinery reported releasing 10 pounds of benzene and 100 pounds of hydrogen sulfide early on Wednesday but clearly released far more. “The refinery has a bad habit of underreporting and an ongoing accident problem, especially during bad weather,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.” There was a flash flood advisory and heavy rain during the night when the chemical smells began. “Rain is a fact of life in south Louisiana. There is no excuse for Exxon’s ongoing failure to prepare.”
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is calling on Exxon to publicly release its storm preparedness plan. The Environmental Protection Agency is being asked to:
  1. Enforce the law and fine Exxon to the fullest extent of the law in order to correct its accident problem.
  2. Investigate the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s poor response to the accident. Despite the flaring and the obvious problems at the refinery yesterday, the department  did not immediately begin perimeter monitoring of the facility.
Sixty six reports of exposure have been filed by residents to the iWitness Pollution Map. The reports can be seen at map.labucketbrigade.org.

According to Chalmette Refinery’s own reports, the refinery leads the state in pollution from accidents since 2005 - over 6 million pounds to the air and 12 million gallons to the water. The refinery shares an environmental manager - Derek Reese – with the Exxon Refinery in Baton Rouge. That refinery was the subject of a scathing EPA inspection late last year.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is deploying its Rapid Response Team today to document the impacts of the chemical exposure.

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The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization supporting neighborhoods’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable communities free from industrial pollution.