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New Results: Fifty Percent of Residents Surveyed Experienced Health Impacts from Chalmette Refining Accident

April 9th, 2013

April 9, 2013 For Immediate Release

Contact: Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 504.484.3433

4226 Canal St.

New Results: Fifty Percent of Residents Surveyed Experienced Health Impacts from Chalmette Refining Accident

(New Orleans) Fifty-five of 110 people surveyed by the Louisiana Bucket
Brigade’s Rapid Response Team in Algiers reported health impacts from
chemical exposure during last week’s accident at ExxonMobil’s Chal-
mette Refining. The results of the survey are being released for the first
time today. “The purpose of this survey is to document the human impacts
of this accident,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “Every
time there’s an accident the oil industry says that no one was harmed. It’s
time to acknowledge – and this survey shows - that people are harmed by
these accidents.” The team of seven trained surveyors handed out
an ExxonMobil claims number.

The Rapid Response Team is a group of trained personnel who go door to door in communities impacted by chemical emergencies. The team went to Algiers on Thursday, April 4th, one day after the accident at Chalmette Refinery caused a chemical release throughout the New Orleans metro area. The team does not deploy during emergencies due to risks of chemical exposure.

Respiratory problems, headaches and nausea were among the health problems reported by the 55 people who experienced health problems. Over 100 residents reported their problems to the iWitness Pollution Map. “I was nauseated and my daughter and my nephews are all sick,” reads a report from April 4th.”

The total number of health reports from the 110 surveyed is as follows. Note that some people reported multiple symptoms.

28 (25%) - respiratory irritation

22 (20%) - nausea

19 (17%) – headaches

10 (9%) – eye irritation

Two people went to the doctor for their symptoms. Others bought medication.

Local residents’ experiences are detailed on the iWitness Pollution Map, http://map.labucketbrigade.org/reports. Among the reports that have come in so far:

April 3, 12:24 pm: “My mom suffers from asthma and coughed repeatedly. I am concerned about the long term health problems we may suffer from the spill.

April 3, 2:34 pm: “When I had gotten off of work at 2:30 am there was a weird smell in the air. At 10 am the smell woke me up it was all outside and inside my home. Which brought on a migraine and nausea!”

April 4, 7:14 pm: “I was calling on behalf of yesterday's spill which was April 3rd 2013. I was smelling a burning chemical smell. And I was just uh, oh and it triggered my son off - I had a headache he has asthma and he was coughing and stuff. My oldest children were coughing.”

Given the refinery’s ongoing problem with accidents during rain and storms (it was raining on April 3rd), the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is calling on ExxonMobil to publicly release its storm preparedness plans.

LABB Rapid Response Survey Results

The Rapid Response Team conducts health surveys through personal conversations with residents affected by chemical accidents, and informs communities of tools to report experiences to local authorities.

110 residents interviewed

92 smelled bad odor (84%)

55 people reported health effects

28 had respiratory irritation


10 had eye irritation


19 had headaches


22 had nausea


2 went to the doctor


Chalmette Refinery. Credit: Louisiana Bucket Brigade

An iWitness Account

“It is 9:00 am. It's been raining hard all night, with flash flood warnings in effect. I walked around the yard checking plants and squirrel traps, and when I came in I felt nauseous with an unusual headache. The chemical odor was different that which they usually let out during rain. It was a very strong oily, pesticide like odor.”

April 3, 2013, Chalmette, Louisiana

See more reports on the iWitness Pollution Map, at http://oilspill.labucketbrigade.org.

LABB iWitness Pollution Map Reports

Report Date

# Reports


Health Effects


April 3, 2013





April 4, 2013





Report Total:






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.