St. Rose Community Ready for a Change

Photo0840Ashley Hubbard is LABB’s newest Petroleum Accident Research Intern and is currently studying Public Health at Dillard University in New Orleans.

This past Thursday on July 3rd, while most communities were be getting ready for a holiday weekend filled with fun, laughter, and fireworks, the community of St. Rose was in the library discussing their next action to deal with the horrid smell the residents have been dealing with off and on for over a month. The issue began on June 7th, when residents say a horrible smell filled the community; the smell was so bad that many in the community couldn’t even go outside to perform their daily routine.
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Marathon Garyville is hit by tornado

Anna Hrybyk, Program ManagerAnna Hrybyk 2

An EF-1 tornado, about 150 yards wide with maximum winds estimated near 105 mph, hit Garyville about 5:30 a.m., the National Weather Service said.  The tornado damaged the cooling towers at the Marathon Refinery in Garyville that led to the complete shutdown of the crude unit.

 

 

Residents reported heavy flaring across the plant and stated there was “a raunchy smell like diesel gasoline” in the neighborhood.  Click here for a resident-captured video uploaded to iwitnesspollution.org the morning of May 28th.

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Matagorda Island and Galveston Bay Oil Spill

Anna Hrybyk 2

Anna Hrybyk, Program Manager

To our friends living near the Houston Ship Channel, Galveston Bay and Matagorda Island:

We have been tracking the oil spill response to the oil impacting your environment from ship-barge collision near Texas City in the Houston Ship Channel.

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To update those of us who are not located in the Galveston area:  As of Monday, March 31, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service teams report 21 dolphins and 4 turtles stranded. Most of these are in the Galveston area but reports from Matagorda Island are increasing.  All of the dolphins were dead, two turtles were captured alive and are being rehabilitated.  Approximately 150 dead birds have been reported in the Galveston area and 30 in the Matagorda area.

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Xavier Students Participate in Algiers ERT

katiecloseupKatie Moore, Research Analyst

This past Saturday, LABB Emergency Response Team and Xavier University’s freshman seminar class deployed to Algiers to knock on doors and ask people about pollution as a part of our Emergency Response Team outreach.  Even though it was an early Saturday morning with the threat of rain, the Xavier students went in to ERT mode full force and did a phenomenal job!

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The Absurdity of “No Off-site Impact”

katiecloseupKatie Moore, Research Analyst

My name is Katie Moore, and I’m the new Research Analyst here at the Bucket Brigade.  On Thursday of last week I went on my first deployment to Baton Rouge as a member of our Emergency Response Team to talk with community members about ongoing pollution and encourage them to report any pollution they experience to the iWitness Pollution Map.

In my first week here at LABB, I’ve seen pollution primarily from the refineries’ perspectives.  Part of my job as Research Analyst involves reading through the accident reports refineries are required to submit to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the National Response Center after a pollution release.  There’s a lot of jargon in these reports, and a lot of fancy footwork to try and down play the impact of their accidents.  One of the questions commonly included is whether the accident caused any off-site impact.  Of all the reports I’ve read so far, there hasn’t been a single one that admitted impacting nearby neighborhoods.

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Who Ya Gonna Call? LABB

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Molly Brackin, Monitoring and Evaluation Associate

The first report of flaring at Shell Norco came into the map around noon on Thursday, March 6th.

Four other reports came in to the map about the same large flare over the next seven hours. It is obvious that something was happening at the Shell refinery in Norco, but it’s difficult to find out what exactly is going on- especially since the National Response Center (NRC) website has been down for well over a week. The NRC is who facilities are legally required to report to when an unauthorized release (read: accident) happens. NRC reports show up on the iWitness Pollution Map alongside citizen reports, helping to verify a community’s experience with pollution. When the NRC site is down many people, including us here at LABB, are left wondering what in the world is going on at an offending refinery.

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“Refinery Flare extraordinarily high, extremely strong. Very concerned about whether refinery is exceeding air emission standards at this time. Very visible from I10…Could be Shell.” (iWitness link)

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Listening Session Comment on EO 13650: Molly Brackin, Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist

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By Molly Brackin, Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist

Listening Session Public Comment

Executive Order #13650:  Improving Chemical Safety and Security

My name is Molly Brackin, and I am an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. I have been with the Bucket Brigade since July 2013, as the Monitoring and Evaluation Associate.

This Executive Order acknowledges the importance of better channels of communication between government agencies and first responders, and increasing public access to information about chemical facility risks. In my work with the Bucket Brigade I have had first-hand experiences with the breakdowns in communication during a chemical accident. I have had numerous conversations with community members who were left in the dark following a chemical accident in their neighborhood. The Toxic Release Inventory is not enough. Simply knowing what might be emitted into a neighborhood is very different from what has been released, how much has been released and when.  Citizens and first responders need up-to-date, easily accessible information about chemical accidents that affect their community.  Communities should not have to search for information on the chemicals and pollutants that are affecting them- that information should be given directly to these communities.

The petrochemical facilities in Louisiana have a chronic problem with accidents. In January 2014 alone, there were 62 NRC (National Response Center) reports from facilities.  LABB has an open-source tool to track these accidents, as well as the community impact from these accidents. The iWitness Pollution Map, which can be viewed at iwitnesspollution.org, shows both NRC reports and citizen reports in real-time. When a community member sees, smells, hears or experiences pollution they have the option to call, text, or email their experiences and photos to the iWitness Pollution Map. Community members can also sign up for alerts, so that anytime an NRC report comes in or a neighbor sees pollution, they get an e-mail or a text.

The map is useful in many ways. It helps to geo-locate citizen complaints, therefore validating a community member’s experience. The map also helps first responders know exactly who the problem is affecting, and it provides a visual of the offsite impacts of petrochemical accidents. We use the map as evidence to contest the claim that the accidents happening in these facilities do not have an impact beyond their fenceline. In addition to the 62 facility reports in January 2014, there were 68 citizen reports to the map- many of which complained of odors and flaring. Obviously, more needs to be done to protect the many communities that are risk from their dangerous, polluting neighbors.

 

 

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