Blog Archive

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REI Tour of Chalmette Refinery and Valero Meraux

My name’s Melissa Robbins and I am a Petrochemical Accident Research intern at the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.  I recently graduated from Tulane University with a degree in public health. On Friday morning, the refinery efficiency initiative team decided to take a tour of Chalmette Refinery and Valero Meraux.

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Formosa Plastics Should Consider Their Impact on the Surrounding Community

The residents of the Standard Heights community in Baton Rouge are working hard to get cleaner air in their neighborhood. Their neighborhood association has partnered with Louisiana Bucket Brigade – and they are doing an incredible job organizing around finding solutions to the stinky air and negative health effects caused by nearby petrochemical industry complexes. Although the nearby ExxonMobil Refinery and Chemical Plant seems like the most common offender due to its proximity to their neighborhood, there are several other chemical plants in the area that have been emitting harmful amounts of pollution – one of those is Formosa Plastics.

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Welcome Gina McCarthy!

Great news for supporters of public health: Gina McCarthy was confirmed as the new EPA administrator last Thursday with a 59-40 vote in the Senate! However, this seemingly uncontroversial and qualified nominee’s confirmation comes after much ado, mostly caused by our very own Senator David Vitter, resulting in the longest-ever wait period (136 days) for an EPA nominee.

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Comments to the EPA Science Advisory Board – Fenceline Monitoring July 16, 2013

My name is Anna Hrybyk, I am a Master in Public Health and the Program Manager for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.  We work with communities who live on the fenceline of refineries and chemical plants across the state.  We are currently most active with community groups in Shreveport and Baton Rouge.

Based on our review of the presentations to the SAB today, I am requesting that the EPA receive more scientific guidance on fenceline monitoring in order to ensure the best quality data on emissions and accurately measure spikes in multiple air pollutants harmful to health that are frequent during malfunctions.

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Poison in the Air

On April 1, 2011, the EPA issued an information collection request to oil refineries in the United States under the Clean Air Act requiring them to monitor what was being released from their stacks.[i] The results were shocking. On January 8, 2013, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery released an update to their initial report on December 9, 2011 reporting a release of hydrogen cyanide from their Fluid Catalytic Cracking Wet Gas Scrubber. They report that they were releasing anywhere from 44.3 lbs/day to 444.3 lbs/day of hydrogen cyanide with an estimated amount of 22,000 lbs released in the previous year; the reportable quantity for hydrogen cyanide according to the National Response Center is 10 lbs/day or 3650 lbs per year. The numbers submitted by ExxonMobil were determined using engineering estimates due to a change in estimating methodology instead of the refinery’s best professional judgment.[ii]

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Community Organizer Faith’s Trip to Highlander

My trip to Highlander was such a wonderful educational experience. I learned so much about myself and the others who traveled with me. I was also able to see how the struggle for justice was not bound by the particulars of causes, race, or geographic location. Everyone was on the same page although we were fighting for different things. 

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Sport Fisherman’s Paradise

Greetings. My name is Hillary Hafner. I’m currently an undergraduate student majoring in marine biology at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m from New Orleans and have returned home for the summer to fulfill an internship with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

On Friday, June 28th, the Refinery Efficiency Initiative team traveled to Grand Isle, Louisiana and greeted the beaches of Elmer’s Island with glass jars and trash bags.

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The People Were Here First

Hey y’all, my name is Sam Howe and I’m an intern with the Refinery Efficiency Initiative (REI) team. Last Friday, the REI team took a driving tour with Darryl Malek-Wiley of the Sierra Club to learn more about the history of the areas surrounding the chemical plants and oil refineries in Louisiana, as well as learn more about the pollution in the area. On this tour, we followed the curves of the Mississippi River to the heart of plantation country. The Mississippi River, in many aspects, is the life-blood of Louisiana. Along this river, Louisiana was first settled; from it many communities, towns, and cities draw their water; it has brought commerce and economic growth to the state, but not all of this growth has been good for the people living in the communities near the river.

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Our Toxic Neighbors

On June 14th, a year after the anniversary of the ExxonMobil Benzene spill where 31,000 pounds of the known carcinogen was released,  the Refinery Efficiency Initiative interns took a trip out to Baton Rouge to visit environmental leader Willie Fontenot. As we walked into the house ready to hear about his actions and love for the environmental world, the first thing I noticed was books. Books were everywhere, on every shelf, table, and chair. I knew we were in for a good time. Ready to hear about Mr. Fontenot’s widespread knowledge, not only from all the books he has read but from his life experiences, he began by pulling out a large stack of papers.

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Geismar Accident Response Team Reflection

We deployed to Geismar last Friday in response the Williams Olefins explosion that occurred the previous morning. Our goal in deploying was to make information of the accident known to those who live in close proximity to the facility, as well as compiling information regarding any related personal experiences and health effects these residents may be exhibiting in response to the accident and the subsequent release of chemicals. This information was collected with the purpose of informing the State of Louisiana of any possible dangers caused by this accident. We also were deployed to inform people of our iWitness Pollution Map so they may report and view information of possible future accidents.


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Louisiana Bucket Brigade
2803 Saint Phillip Street
New Orleans, LA 70119

 (504) 484-3433
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