PRESS RELEASE: TANK FIRE IN CAMERON PARISH HIGHLIGHTS INDUSTRY’S THREAT TO COMMUNITY
Residents of Hackberry in Cameron Parish, Louisiana were directed to shelter in place on Sunday afternoon when two crude oil tanks caught fire.
“I received the text from the Office of Emergency Preparedness,” said Adley Dyson, a retired shrimper who lived in Cameron Parish for 72 years. Shelter in place is a directive given during petrochemical accidents to residents at risk of chemical exposure.
There are no publicly available reports about the accident to either the state or the federal government. News reports do not identify the name of the company. Aerial photos detail two oil tanks in north Hackberry. It is not clear who owns the oil storage tanks, which reportedly had nine feet of oil inside at the time of the fire.
The accident is of particular concern given the gas industry’s aggressive expansion plan for the parish. The Cameron LNG and Calcasieu Pass facilities are operational. There are plans to build an additional eight – ten such facilities in the region, with four of those planned for Cameron Parish.
“My question is, what happens when those larger facilities explode?” asked Mr. Dyson. “I talked to a pilot of one of the tankers they ship this gas on. I asked him – how far do you have to be to be safe? He told me that if you can see it, you’re too close. That means we’re in danger even if we are seven or eight miles away.”
The lack of detail about this current accident – including the responsible party and the cause of the fire – calls into question the ability to prepare for and respond to such accidents. News reports that a lightning strike caused the fire are in keeping with the pattern of accidents during storms. Some of the largest industrial accidents in Louisiana have taken place during storms and have come from the companies’ failure to prepare.
“The petrochemical industry often refers to its operational failures as an act of God and blames accidents on the weather,” said Anne Rolfes, Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “What we have found time and again is that there is often an equipment failure or preparedness failure, and the accident could have been avoided. But in Louisiana, with no meaningful government oversight, the companies can get away with accidents and face no consequences. This is not a good scenario for accident management for gas export facilities.”
Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass facility has had consistent operational problems since it opened in January of 2022. Neighbors report flares several times a week, and the facility reports to the state have noted a serious problem with the hot oil heaters that Venture Global cannot solve.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Mr. Adley questioned the wisdom of building more volatile facilities in such a vulnerable location.
“There are storms here. We know that. How is this safe to build more?” asked Mr. Dyson.
Mr. Dyson has moved away from Cameron Parish because of the industrial expansion. “I shrimped and I had a shrimp shop. Hurricane Laura took my shop and my boat, and I didn’t want to go back into Cameron because the LNGs (liquified natural gas terminals) had changed the town so much.”
Adley Dyson, retired fisherman and Cameron Parish native, (337) 794 -2746
Anne Rolfes, (504) 452 -4909, anne@labucketbrigade.
About Louisiana Bucket Brigade
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade collaborates with communities on the fenceline of polluting industry in Louisiana. We engage in grassroots action to hasten the transition from fossil fuels.
Visit the labucketbrigade.org website for more information.