Louisiana Environmentalists Release Report on the Petrochemical Industry

By Yessenia Funes Nov 29, 2016

Environmental organization the Louisiana Bucket Brigade released a report today (November 29) on the state’s petrochemical industry accidents a week after a fire at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Baton Rouge. The Exxon fire resulted in six injuries, four of which were critical. 

The fire was caused by flammable vapors released during unplanned maintenance, according to initial findings from the U.S. Chemical Board’s investigation. The board had sent a three-person team to the site after the incident.

As the report from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade makes clear, the resulting fire at the plant—the fourth largest in the U.S.—was not a lone occurrence: There had been another in December 2015. From 2005 to 2014, the refinery reported 890 accidents to the federal government. 

The petrochemical industry is a main target of the state’s environmental groups because of its pollution, which is often marked by foul odors to nearby residents. The report lists residents complaining to iWitnessPollution.org, a local database run by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the National Response Center, of sulfuric acid leaks, chemical-type smells and headaches. One woman, Liz Gordon, called iWitnessPollution.org several times a month between January 2016 and November 2016.

The report also detailed petrochemical accidents throughout the state the week before the refinery fire. The days of November 4-17 saw 51 reported accidents involving odors, storage tanks or onshore facililties. 

Find the full report here.