Community to report on research in ExxonMobil's records: Health concerns spur citizen action

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What: Community members who live next to ExxonMobil’s Chalmette Refining will release the results of research into the refinery’s emissions reports. These reports have been made by ExxonMobil to the Louisiana Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ). 

Various types of facilities, including refineries, are required to file reports to the LEPC and the LDEQ if their “unplanned incidents” surpass a threshold. ExxonMobil’s incidents during the time period in question far exceeded the reporting threshold. 

The reports provide insight into the frequency of “unplanned incidents and upsets” at the refinery, situations in which the refinery releases its chemicals into the atmosphere because of operational problems. In October of 2000 the Environmental Protection Agency issued an alert regarding the flaring of sulfur dioxide, which ExxonMobil emits. The agency noted that short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide “may result in reduced lung function accompanied by such symptoms as wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath in asthmatic children and adults.” 

Why:  Community members in Chalmette have long complained about odors from the refinery. They also complain of petroleum coke dust – a black soot like substance that covers their homes, cars and often gets on children who play outside. The incident reports are a reliable way to understand what is emitted from the refinery from the refinery’s own information.

In addition, St. Bernard Parish has the highest cancer mortality rate in the state as well as high rates of asthma. Residents are concerned that emissions from ExxonMobil may be contributing to their health problems.

When:         10:30 AM, Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Where:     12 Carroll Drive, Chalmette

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