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Tue August 6, 2013

Environmental Groups Seek Stronger Storm Guidelines For Oil And Gas Plants

A coalition of environmental groups is recommending tougher regulations on oil facilities to prevent possible leaks after severe storms. The group looked at damage reports filed after Hurricane Isaac last year.

The Gulf Monitoring Consortium formed two years ago to double check government efforts at preventing pollution.

The group is made up of five environmental nonprofits that examined damage caused at onshore and offshore facilities after Hurricane Isaac.

David Manthos is a spokesman for consortium member SkyTruth. It’s a nonprofit based in West Virginia that uses satellite images to track industrial energy production.

He says that while the Gulf Coast can expect problems from hurricanes, tougher operating and engineering standards could help prevent damage.

“Hurricanes coming is no surprise to the region," Manthos said. "The amount of water that comes down and the backtrack of the storm does vary, but the arrival of it is no surprise and it can be better.”   

Tom Harris of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality says inspectors are working closely with the oil and gas industry to secure the production facilities.

“When a large storm impacts the coast there is going to be damage regardless of regulation," Harris said. "There’s going to be stuff tossed everywhere.”   

Harris says the state calls companies before storms to track preparations. And he says the DEQ also works with the Coast Guard on drills to help companies improve their response.

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