Refineries and fenceline neighbors vulnerable as tropical storm bears down on Gulf Coast

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Communities asked to report problems to Crisis Map

NEW ORLEANS -- Tropical Storm Lee’s projected path across southern Louisiana is a warning to all refineries and nearby residents throughout the state. Refineries’ own reports show they are vulnerable during storms of this magnitude:


1. Power failure at refineries is common during storms, resulting in 204,121 pounds of pollution to the air since 2005. Power failures at refineries lead to excessive inefficient flaring of toxic chemicals into the air, so residents should be on the look out for large flares with black smoke. 

2. Heavy rains consistently overflow refinery wastewater treatment ponds into neighboring canals, streams, rivers and lakes.


“In a region with such a high concentration of petrochemical facilities, we need to assume that storms such as this one will produce an accompanying chemical accident and prepare our communities appropriately,” says Anna Hrybyk, LABB Program Manager. 


Louisiana refineries have cited storms as the cause of 5,829,446 pounds of air pollution and 15,285,717 gallons of liquid pollution, more than any other cause of refinery accidents. Toxic chemicals released during these accidents include 3.3 million gallons of oil, 2.2 million pounds of sulfur dioxide and more than 27,000 pounds of benzene.


Residents living near refineries should be vigilant in their documentation of pollution during storms. If you see refinery pollution in progress, you can submit your observations, photographs and video to LABB’s Chemical Accidents Crisis Map via text or online. Text in your report to (504) 272-7645 or submit a report online at


“Reporting what pollution you see, smell and/or feel during this storm is very important.  Your reports will alert authorities to the problem so they can take steps to protect public health and hold the industry accountable,” Hrybyk says.


Residents can also call in reports of pollution to the National Response Center at1-800-424-8802. If residents are experiencing any health effects from the pollution, please call the Louisiana Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222


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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