FOX 44 (Baton Rouge): Watchdog groups want ExxonMobil to get safer

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By Kris Cusanza - Producer

BATON ROUGE,LA (FOX44) — Over 13 hundred concerned Louisiana residents say they want the ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge to step up their safety policy to protect workers and limit storm damage.

According to the State Department of Environmental Quality the ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge reported 672 accidents from 2005-2010.
The U.S. Steelworker Union, Community Empowerment for Change, and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade collected letters from people living across the state to raise awareness of the safety issues.

One area these groups say needs work is storm preparedness.
During Hurricane Gustav in 2008, the refinery released 1.25 million pounds of toxic air emissions over a twelve day periods.

"ExxonMobil makes a lot of money dumping their pollution onto communities and not taking care of it," said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

In the letter the groups asked for ExxonMobil's refinery manager to add more workers, improve emergency alerts, upgrade equipment and implement proper shut downs of the refinery before storms hit.

"ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery Manager Steve Blume has no plans to meet with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade," said Lana Sonnier Venable,
ExxonMobil Baton Rouge spokeswoman, said in statement released today. "We have repeatedly suggested that any letters be mailed to his attention so that they can be screened onsite in accordance with our security procedures. These procedures are designed to help ensure the safety of our workforce.

"If delivery in the appropriate manner, we will review the letters," the release continued. "In the meantime, we will continue our ongoing dialogue with our neighbors and encourage them to communicate with us directly by calling our public information number (225.977.8383). Our operations hotline is also accessible 24/7 at 225.977.0410."

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