DEQ admonished for covering up Stolthaven problems; Resignation, federal takeover called for

| Press Releases

September 19, 2012                                 For Immediate Release

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

                        Anna Hrybyk, Program Manager, (504) 312-1737

NOTE: Press conferences are happening in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Time: 10:30 AM

Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
 
New Orleans press conference address: 4226 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA
 

Baton Rouge press conference - outside of the Department of Environmental Quality. 602 North Fifth Street, Baton Rouge, LA  70802

(New Orleans) The resignation of the Press Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality  involved in the Stolthaven cover up is being called for today. Calls for a takeover of the agency by the Environmental Protection Agency have also been renewed. “It’s bad enough that LDEQ is asleep at the wheel and fails to protect us,” said Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “Now we have proof of what we’ve known all along: they are actually covering up for polluters.” Numerous people, including Braithwaite residents, emergency response personnel and journalists were in or near the floodwaters while DEQ officials not only remained silent on the risks, but gave misleading accounts to the public.

Stolthaven filed a report with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality on September 11th.  A “RECEIVED – DEQ” stamp is on the document. The report reads: “It is assumed that a portion of the contents of the above identified tanks was released in to the facilities storm water which then flowed off site into the storm surge.” LDEQ continued to insist that all was well despite this clear communication from Stolthaven.  In a September 13th statement to the Times Picayune, LDEQ Press Secretary Rodney Mallet did not inform the public but instead emphasized the LDEQ’s usual refrain of “no offsite impacts” from the spill, even as the agency had a written report that the chemicals had gone offsite.  It is Rodney Mallet’s resignation that is being called for today. “The public needs to see that there is accountability for the cover up,” said Ms. Rolfes.

The groups are today calling for the following:
  • Immediate resignation or firing of Rodney Mallet
  • Investigation by the EPA Office of the Inspector General into the region’s oversight and management of hazard assessment, emergency response and public relations
  • EPA takeover of federal programs administered by the LDEQ, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and emergency response.
The groups are also alerting members of the legislative environment committees. “We are informing our legislators of what has happened,” said Anne Rolfes, “but we know that we need federal intervention. The state has been bought by the petrochemical industry and public safety is the victim.”

 

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.

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