[StBernard] Local environmental group releases report on excess emissions from refineries
westley at da-parish.com
Sun Dec 6 22:25:06 EST 2009
Local environmental group releases report on excess emissions from
by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Posted on December 6, 2009 at 5:40 PM
Updated today at 5:49 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- In a report to be released on Monday, a local environmental
advocacy group is highlighting what may be coming out of the state's
refineries, outside normal emission parameters.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade examined state emissions data from 10 of the
state's 17 oil refineries. What they found is that the refineries have
released anywhere from hundreds of thousands, to millions of pounds of
additional emissions during a four-year period, from 2005 to 2008.
The information is based on reports that the refineries have filed with the
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. By law, the refineries have
to report each time they release chemicals, in what they call "unplanned
releases." The Bucket Brigade calls them "accidents."
"When we did this research, we didn't know what we would find," said Anne
Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. "If you're going
on I-10 west, towards Baton Rouge, and you look to your left, and you see
flares, those are refinery accidents in progress. Really, these are all
around us and I think when people see these things, they ought to know what
they are seeing."
Among the refineries listed in the report and the pounds of pollution
released outside the norm, from 2005-2008:
Motiva Enterprises in Norco, St. Charles Parish-- 354,021 pounds
Marathon Petroleum in Garyville, St. John the Baptist Parish-- 464,538
Murphy Oil in Meraux, St. Bernard Parish-- 927,983 pounds
Chalmette Refining in Chalmette, St. Bernard Parish-- 6,202,259 pounds
Valero Refining in Norco, St. Charles Parish-- 221,215 pounds
A spokesperson for Marathon said their refinery is fully transparent about
their emission numbers. They also said they are finishing construction on a
new $4 billion, state-of-the-art refinery in Garyville, which will begin
operating at the end of the month.
Several of the refineries said they had yet to see the Bucket Brigade's
report. Not all of the refineries responded to requests for an on-camera
interview, but a spokesperson for Valero Refining did.
"Since we purchased the refinery in Norco in 2003, we've reduced the
emissions from the plant by 50 percent," said Ron Guillory, with Valero St.
Charles Refinery public affairs. "Generally, refineries run, and from time
to time they have problems with some of the equipment that shuts down for
some reason. And when that happens, we have to flare and flaring is a safety
process. So, we flare these gases and burn them off and that's usually what
the unplanned releases are about."
For Suzanne Kneale, though, the report validates what she said she
experiences in her neighborhood, located near one of the refineries in St.
"My children are asthmatic, and when the chemical odors are so intense that
we find ourselves sheltering in place, that certainly doesn't help," Kneale
On the heels of compiling the report, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade said they
have invited representatives of all the refineries to a roundtable meeting,
with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to discuss how to reduce
unplanned releases. The roundtable is scheduled for February.
The report will be released Monday and you will be able to view it then at
More information about the StBernard