“Although this new refinery rule is good progress and a step in the right direction, we still have a long fight ahead of us. This rule will monitor for benzene, a known carcinogen. Our problem in St. Rose has been release of the chemical hydrogen sulfide – a neurotoxin. If they’re not allowing hydrogen sulfide to be monitored, there’s obviously a bigger problem.
Earthjustice and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade invited St. Rose Community One Voice to D.C. to meet with the Environmental Protection Agency. I was there to give them real information about what it’s like to live so near pollution so that they could make the best rule possible. St. Rose Community One Voice was grateful to be part of the team.
Earthjustice introduced me to Janet McCabe, the Acting Assistant Administrator of the EPA. The meeting went very well. We had lots of different representatives – people, just regular people – from different areas of the country who’ve been affected by industry. It’s personal testimony – people with real stories. I was touched tremendously by some of the testimony that went before me. I told them about my experience. In June of last year my entire family was exposed to hydrogen sulfide from an accident at Shell and IMTT. Then I realized it wasn’t just that day but that it had been going on for several years. My son was four at the time and became very sick for about eight weeks – lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea. His name is Dawson Huckabay. My family is still dealing with the effects today.
I want to thank EPA for listening to us. I was thankful to be a part of it. We hope that this would be the beginning of something bigger and better to really protect people, to guarantee the right to breathe clean air.
If we’re going to give industry permits to release these emissions, then our goal is to have all of their emissions monitored. Whatever they’re permitted to release, we want it to be monitored, that’s our goal. I’m excited and optimistic about the new ruling. But this is not over by any means.”