St. James Site of 37 Petrochemical Accidents, No Bayou Bridge Jobs
(Baton Rouge, LA)
Newly released data from the federal government’s National Response Center revealed today that petrochemical plants in St. James Parish had 37 accidents in the last 14 months, including multiple releases of hazardous chemicals to the air and a pipeline accident that spilled over 12,000 gallons of oil. The reports are self-reported by industry. “We are bearing a burden of pollution that is already too great,” said Pastor Harry Joseph of the H.E.L.P. Association of St. James, Louisiana, the proposed terminus of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. “They keep building extended stay motels for workers from out of state and industry doesn’t hire local people. Bayou Bridge will do nothing but harm us just like industry is already doing, and it’s why we are calling on Governor Edwards to stop it.” The report released today is available at labucketbrigade.org
The information was released in front of the Governor’s Mansion by the H.E.L.P. Association, 350 New Orleans, L’eau est La Vie Camp and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Governor John Bel Edwards has been a consistent target of pipeline opponents who called for the Governor to request an Environmental Impact Statement, both because of Energy Transfer Partners’ terrible accident record and ongoing destruction by the oil industry around Louisiana.
Twenty-four percent of the accidents detailed in today’s report were caused by equipment failure. Over half of the accidents listed “unknown” as the cause. Ammonia and the carcinogen benzene were among the dangerous air pollutants released on multiple occasions.
Pastor Joseph and others in St. James Parish have predicted that the Bayou Bridge Pipeline will bring more tanks, petrochemical infrastructure and pollution to the parish, a prediction borne out this week by the previously undisclosed revelation that another leg of Bayou Bridge is planned from St. James to Plaquemines Parish. The groups pointed out today that the majority of workers’ license plates along the Bayou Bridge route are from out of state. “I spent all day yesterday going job site to job site – seven Bayou Bridge constructions sites in all,” said Cherri Foytlin of L’eau est La Vie Camp, “and I did not find ONE single worker from ST. James Parish. So I have to ask, who exactly is getting the benefit of this project? Who got the jobs, because all Freetown and St. James got was empty promises and undoubtedly more cancer and asthma causing spills on the way. Tell me how that can be moral, let alone fair?
The high accident rate has been an ongoing problem in the parish. There were twenty-five reported accidents in 2016. Today’s report details accidents from Mosaic, Am Sty, Plains Pipeline Company and Occidental. There were also multiple releases of chemicals and oil into the Mississippi River.
“In District 5 in St. James we have an African American low income community being suffocated by frequent releases of toxins from petrochemical plants and pipelines,” said Renate Heurich of 350 New Orleans. “They justify the continued assault on this community by the overall economic benefit to Louisiana as certified by an LSU study, financed by the oil industry. This is a textbook example of environmental racism.”
For more information, visit Louisiana Bucket Brigade
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization using grassroots action to create an informed, healthy society that hastens the transition from fossil fuels. Visit labucketbrigade.org and follow @labucketbrigade
Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909, firstname.lastname@example.org