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New Report: Pollution from Louisiana Refineries Increasing


Louisiana Bucket Brigade, United Steelworkers, Residents for Air Neutralization, Standard Heights Neighborhood Association, Occupational Health & Safety Section - American Public Health Association

NOVEMBER 12, 2013 For Immediate Release

Contact: Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452 - 4909

For a copy of the report visit www.labucketbrigade.org

New Orleans Location

Baton Rouge Location

Phone Conference

Tuesday, Nov 12

10:30 am

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Tuesday, Nov 12

10:30 am

602 North 5th St.

Tuesday, Nov 12 - 11:45 am CDT

www.anymeeting.com/LABB

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New Report: Pollution from Louisiana Refineries Increasing

Call for Whistleblowers from Industry, State Agencies

www.iwitnesspollution.org

(New Orleans) Louisiana’s 17 refineries reported 327 accidents in 2012, an average of six per week. The accidents released over two million pounds of air pollution and exceeded 12 million gallons of water pollution. “Year after year our state gets the pollution and the oil industry gets the profit,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB). “We have to work together to change this, so we are calling on refinery workers and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) employees to tell what they know. The rank and file are doing a good job, it’s the management that protects the oil industry’s interests,” she continued. The report includes ways for workers to report anonymously via iwitnesspollution.org

The numbers are compiled by LABB staff from refineries’ reports to the state DEQ. This methodology for data management has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The report, entitled Mission: Zero Accidents. Why Cooperation to Reduce Accidents at Louisiana Refineries is Needed Now, has the objective to end refinery accidents.

At issue with the accident reports from 2012 (the most recent data available) is underreporting by refineries as well as sloppy reporting. Refineries provided no information about 11% of their accidents. In Shreveport, 12% of Calumet Refining’s reports were not filed until community members called the state agency and forced the reporting.

“It is essential that refinery incidents get reported because that is one of the first steps in protecting the employees and the community,” said USW International Vice President Gary Beevers. Accident emissions have increased over the last several years.

"There is nothing more fundamental for workers' and communities' right-to-know than a robust system of reporting chemical releases, and making the data easily available," noted Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH, policy co-chair of the Occupational Health & Safety Section, American Public Health Association.  "LABB's report confirms what workers and residents have known for years----petrochemical companies too often skirt the laws for reporting serious incidents." 

The Motiva refinery in Norco had five of the ten largest accidents of the year.

Hurricane Isaac is one of the causes of the increased emissions for 2012. The refineries have long been criticized for poor preparation for storms and weather that are known and expected in this part of the country.

“These incidents happen because the refiners are not maintaining their facilities adequately or are operating them under unsafe conditions,” continued Mr. Beevers. “If we can make these refineries safer for our workers, the community will benefit as well.”

Benzene, a known carcinogen, is released in large quantities as is sulfur dioxide, a chemical that triggers asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. The report details new information about releases of hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide.

The cumulative reports by refineries since 2005:

· 3,339 accidents

· 24 million pounds of air pollution

· 25 million gallons of water pollution

Accident reports are accessible via the Refinery Accident Database at www.labucketbrigade.org. The Louisiana Bucket Brigade has compiled refinery accidents since 2005. Meanwhile refineries continue to lay off workers who might prevent such problems.

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