First Results from Chalmette Air Monitors Expose Pollution

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(Chalmette) In a resounding confirmation of community air samples taken over the last two years, the first results from high technology monitors operated by the state and community groups have detected a known carcinogen and an asthma trigger at alarming levels. "We have been capturing these chemicals with our buckets for two years," said Ken Ford, President of the St. Bernard Citizens for Environmental Quality. "Now we have even more results to prove our point. These obnoxious odors that we suffer from show something is wrong."

The latest air monitoring results come from two newly installed monitors in the parish. One is an air monitor installed by the Department of Environmental Quality in April across the street from ExxonMobil. That monitor takes a 24 hour sample once every six days. High levels of benzene – a known carcinogen – were detected in the state’s sample.

The second monitor is a UV Sentry operated by the St. Bernard Citizens for Environmental Quality and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. It takes continuous readings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During a 24 hour period that began at 6 AM on April 28th, the monitor detected readings of sulfur dioxide – known to trigger asthma attacks – at levels that violate EPA standards. The air is allowed to exceed the EPA limit once per year; the level was exceeded within the first week of operating the monitor.

The readings shatter ExxonMobil’s most recent attempt to critique community sampling, a critique considered dangerous ground for the corporation since it has never shared any results of its community air sampling, leading residents to believe it has done none. The latest results provide confirmation that the air in the parish is laden with refinery chemicals over extended periods of time.

Despite repeated requests over a number of years, the corporation has never supplied neighbors with its air sampling data. "ExxonMobil made $25 billion dollars in 2004," said Anne Rolfes, Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. "They can easily afford to monitor the air."

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WHEN: 10 AM - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

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