Geismar Residents Report Health Impacts from Explosion; Experiences Contrast with Statements by Public Officials

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(New Orleans) A six member Accident Response Team was deployed by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade to a neighborhood in Geismar near the Williams Olefins plant that exploded on Thursday. The team went door to door and surveyed 67 people. The survey methodology was developed by Dr. Marvin LeGator of the University of Texas who pioneered the self-reported health symptom survey as a way to understand the impacts of chemical exposure on residents. Three open ended questions were asked:

Describe what type of odors/ sights/ sounds and when.

Has your experience caused you any health effects?

Has your experience caused an emotional response?

The team was deployed on Friday, June 14th, the day after the explosion, to the neighborhood near Jackie Robinson Memorial Park.

The mental health component was the most significant. Of the 67 people surveyed:


24 peoplereported health effects


15 had respiratory irritation


5 had eye irritation


9 had headaches


3 had nausea


8 had other health effect



44 peoplereported mental health effects


18 experienced fear


21 experienced anxiety


6 experienced anger


9 experienced sadness


11 experienced other health effect






These results are in contrast to statements by public officials who provided assurances of safety without going to the neighborhoods to talk with people.

Bobby Jindal, Governor:

“Jindal adds that the state is also looking into the air quality in and around the plant, though he says there should be no issues moving forward.”[i]

Cheryl Nolan, Assistant Secretary of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality:“According to Assistant DEQ Secretary Cheryl Nolan, there have been no detections above normal levels in the air, but DEQ is doing additional monitoring out of an abundance of caution. The results so far show no harmful effects.”[ii]




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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