By Molly Brackin, Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist
In the month of August, there were 379 chemical accidents reported to the iWitness Pollution Map. Of these 379 reports, only 100 came from citizens. The other 279 reports came from the National Response Center (NRC), which is the federal point of contact for reporting chemical and oil spills. However, I’m not pointing this out to minimize the importance of citizen reports. It is quite the opposite. Petrochemical companies have 24 hours to report an accident to the NRC after it happens. It can take longer than that for the report to show up on the iWitness map. Additionally, the EPA doesn’t require reporting for accidents that didn’t result in chemical exposure to anyone off-site. This system of self-reporting by petro-chemical companies makes citizen reports all the more important. Many times, citizens see, smell or hear an accident long before the NRC is notified. Thus citizens are an important part of emergency response. Citizens are the eyes, ears and noses on the ground and their reports are one of the most effective ways for holding these companies accountable for the pollution they are releasing. Remember, if you smell something bad you should call or text 504-272-7645 to report it. Every Louisianian deserves clean air!