Audit of EPA/DEQ samples reveals air contamination and health hazards

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What: Three organizations and concerned residents will tomorrow release their audit of air samples taken by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. The audit, conducted from information available on the agency web sites, reviews all of the air sampling data available since Hurricane Katrina, particularly those taken with EPA's mobile lab, the TAGA truck. Results of particulate monitoring are also reviewed.

Why: The groups initiated the audit after EPA and DEQ's consistent mischaracterization of monitoring results. A joint press release by the agencies called a benzene reading "slightly elevated" when it was, in fact, more than 40 times the state standard. Benzene is a known carcinogen, the same chemical that has created the current environmental crisis in Russia and China.

DEQ and EPA's unreasonably optimistic characterization of benzene readings prompted the groups' review of all air data. The review found numerous instances of air contamination. The review includes summaries and charts of the data as well as comparison of the results to Louisiana health standards. All charts and summaries will be available at Wednesday's press conference.

The purpose of this review is to inform the public of the hazards as well as to force the EPA and the DEQ to do their job: protect the public from environmental harm. The residents and workers of New Orleans, St. Bernard and Plaquemines deserve to return to a healthy environment.

Who:The St. Bernard Citizens for Environmental Quality( have been working in St. Bernard Parish for the past ten years, advocating for less pollution, more accountability and more sampling from the local refineries.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade ( trains communities throughout the state to take samples and monitor petrochemical plants. For the past six years residents trained by the LA Bucket Brigade have taken more air samples than anyone else in the U.S. The Refinery Reform Campaign( is a national organization dedicated to monitoring and cleaning up the nation's oil refineries.

Where: Sheraton Hotel Downtown, 500 Canal Street

When: Wednesday, November 30th, 10:00 AM Central Time

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