To our friends living near the Houston Ship Channel, Galveston Bay and Matagorda Island: We have been tracking the oil spill response to the oil impacting your environment from ship-barge collision near Texas City in the Houston Ship Channel.
This past Saturday, LABB Emergency Response Team and Xavier University’s freshman seminar class deployed to Algiers to knock on doors and ask people about pollution as a part of our Emergency Response Team outreach. Even though it was an early Saturday morning with the threat of rain, the Xavier students went in to ERT mode full force and did a phenomenal job!
Part of my job as Research Analyst involves reading through the accident reports refineries are required to submit to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the National Response Center after a pollution release. There’s a lot of jargon in these reports, and a lot of fancy footwork to try and down play the impact of their accidents. One of the questions commonly included is whether the accident caused any off-site impact.
Executive Order #13650: Improving Chemical Safety and Security. This Executive Order acknowledges the importance of better channels of communication between government agencies and first responders, and increasing public access to information about chemical facility risks.
While many community members are aware of the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), some facilities within the state of Louisiana do not list up to date information. When visiting the TRI website on a specific plant, the most recent year listed includes 2012, while we live in the year 2014. Less than one month ago, community members in Shreveport became aware of chemicals in their air not from nearby industry communications, or a government website, but from a bucket analysis. If it had not been for this bucket analysis, community members would not have been aware of these chemicals in their air.
January began as a relatively light month for refinery accident reports. The numbers of both citizen and NRC reports were down from previous month, which could either indicate that refineries were doing better or that no one was reporting. Either way, the accident rate picked up again in the last week of January.
The people of Louisiana are fiercely proud of their home state. New Orleanians can even be described as being “proud of their pride.” This is how local chains such as K&B and Hubig’s Pies became cherished New Orleans traditions. Cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solutions that seem to work in every other city are rarely embraced by New Orleans. Why, then, do the core products of New Orleans’ most famous tradition not reflect this pride? After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the mentality of Louisiana became one of self-reliance. I see no reason that this should not extend to Mardi Gras.
“Did you see or smell it?” It’s Friday, January 31st, and I’m handing out cards with this headline in the Standard Heights community of Baton Rouge. The LABB Emergency Response Team has deployed for the second time this week, due to yet another refinery accident. On Monday January 27th between 4 and 5 pm, we received three reports to our iWitness Pollution Map, all describing flaring at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery.
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