Thank you for your time in reviewing our January 2013 monthly analysis. We appreciate your attention to the industry problem of chemical accidents, though we wish your response had included concern about the people who have reported health harms. One worried mother in Chalmette posted on January 25th that her family’s chronic sickness including nausea, throwing up, and dizziness) may be due from her home’s proximity to Chalmette chemical plants
The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association — a trade association and lobbying group representing industry –celebrates its 90th birthday next week at its annual meeting February 20-21 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New Orleans.
“Oil is not a toxin.” Just one of the unforgettable messages that resonated at our Art-to-Action workshop in Norco on January 18th for 34 artists and activists participating in the Network of Ensembles Theaters MicroFest. We took a trip that wound through the refinery, to the mostly empty community of Diamond, drumming and singing with the Guardians of the Flame, and then to the River Region Performing Arts and Cultural Center.
On Tuesday, January 29, I traveled with Bucket Brigade staff and Rapid Response Team volunteers to the LSU Center for Energy, Coast, and Environment to attend a day-long symposium “Response, Recovery, and Resilience to Oil Spills and Environmental Disasters: Engaging Experts and Communities.” Each LABB staff member came from a different social background and had a unique professional interest; thus we contributed as much in diversity as we learned at the conference
Last Friday, the Bucket Brigade’s Rapid Response Team deployed to Chalmette to talk to residents about their experiences and health effects after high levels of sulfur dioxide were measured in their area. The recent sulfur dioxide release, which exceeded the state limit, is suspected to have come from the Rain CII Petroleum Coke Processing Plant. This is the second release of this kind in the past month, the first on December 22nd, forced the Chalmette ferry to turn around on its trip from Algiers after the captain and several passengers became ill. Exposure to sulfur dioxide can be harmful, causing eye irritation, coughing, headaches, nasal blockage, emphysema, and bronchitis, and can exacerbate existing heart conditions. These effects can be more severe in children, elderly people, and asthmatics.
Imagine flares and black smoke filling the air, toxic odors in your lungs, and a noise so deafening you can’t escape it even inside your house, and you’ve got a good idea of how refinery neighbors in Baton Rouge, Norco, Chalmette, and Shreveport spent this holiday season. Our chemical carols, originally written as a joke, became a chillingly accurate description of the holiday experience for many fenceline neighbors.
Since Exxon Mobil Baton Rouge’s 31,000 pound benzene release last June, the Bucket Brigade has been focusing on keeping Exxon accountable. On July 12th, Program Manager Anna Hrybyk, Standard Heights Community Association President Shirley Bowman, and Secretary Tonga Nolan flew to D.C. to request greater accountability of the refinery at the EPA headquarters. Just four days after their visit, the EPA conducted an unannounced inspection at the Baton Rouge refinery.
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