April 24th in the Metro New Orleans area was a rainy day. On rainy days I have come to expect foul odors from refinery accidents because the heavily corroded infrastructure can’t handle the rain. We received four reports to the iWitness Pollution Map of burning and sulfur odors within a short time frame on April 24th, following almost exactly the pattern of the rain that morning.
“Sulfury sewage smell.” Uptown New Orleans 8:53am
“Big waft of bad egg smell floated through Holy Cross about 11:45 am, during the storm. Smell lasted about an hour, even in driving rain/wind.”
“The burning smell that I’ve called about before started faintly this morning…now I guess about 12 o’clock and it’s quite severe.” Gretna 12:53pm
“Just reporting a really bad smell almost burns your nose. Smells like something’s burning.” Gretna 13:45pm
Anytime I see a cluster of reports like that, the same location, date and time, I forward that on to LDEQ to see if they have heard anything from the area facilities. Corroborating citizen observations, LDEQ’s Emergency Responder Peter Ricca wrote back:
DEQ was notified that Chevron Oronite had an SO2 release this morning by the DPS HazMat Hotline. Additionally, my local ER responder was directly notified of the release by the local State Police hazmat trooper. Chevron Oronite made that notification as required under state law. The State Police Hazardous Incident number is 13-01770. While that facility is located in Belle Chasse and some distance from the reported odors, our regional office will be investigating this facility as well as several other facilities permitted to emit SO2 as well. If required, Chevron Oronite will file a written report within 7 days of the notification outlining the cause, environmental impact, steps taken to prevent similar incidents from re-occurring, etc.”
Your reports of petrochemical odors continue to be one of the best ways we know that a refinery accident is in progress. Without your reports, we may have to wait years before we read the refinery’s own report to LDEQ that something harmful was released. Thank you from all of us at LABB and keep up the reporting!