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WWNO News Reports
Fri September 9, 2011
Tropical Storm Lee Blamed for Four Refinery Accidents
By Eileen Fleming
New Orleans, LA – The Louisiana Bucket Brigade says four accidents at refineries have been reported to the National Response Center. Two involved the Exxon-Mobil plant in Baton Rouge, one at the Motiva distribution terminal in St. James Parish and another at the Conoco Phillips facility in Plaquemines Parish. Brigade director Anne Rolfes says the companies reports show improvements are needed.
"One of the most basics steps they can take is simply to increase their capacity. So, if they have a tank that holds, for example, 300 gallons of water that can overflow, they need to increase the capacity of that tank to 600 gallons. It's an obvious investment to make." :16
Oil companies are required under the Clean Water Act to report accidents, or face fines. The last four blame heavy rain for overflowing a waste unit that spilled into the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, and oil spilling into Callahan Bayou in that area. The third report blamed the storm for a sump pump overflowing, and the fourth for a gas flare in Plaquemines Parish that released sulfur dioxide.
The National Response Center is the federal point of contact for reporting releases of hazardous substances. It's staffed 24 hours a day by the Coast Guard.
Rolfes says Tropical Storm Lee could have caused even more damage if it got stronger.
"These are really small examples, but I think any of us who lived through the BP disaster understands that you've got to pay attention to these small signals because they can predict something terrible in the future." :12
Rolfes says that in 2008, 11-point-6 million gallons of wastewater polluted Lake Borgne from a Chalmette Refining accident ahead of Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
For WWNO, I'm Eileen Fleming.