Department of Environmental Quality

NBC33-TV, via WWL-TV

The sight of smoke billowing over three separate explosions in south Louisiana within a week may have caused some concern about air quality. Officials are confident that there was no health danger. Others aren’t so sure.

State environmental quality officials say they followed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's instructions on submitting a plan to reduce ozone, but they are unsure why Louisiana was included on a list of states that failed to do so.

On Jan. 4, the EPA sent notices of failure to 28 states while also acknowledging that the letters are the result of unclear guidance from the federal agency.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is releasing a report later today on accidents at refineries across the state during 2011. The group says pollution is increasing.

State regulators say they are issuing a $12,189 fine against a chemical terminal flooded during Hurricane Isaac because it did not notify authorities fast enough about chemical releases.

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said it issued the fine against Stolthaven New Orleans LLC, a company that operates a chemical terminal along the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish.

Criminal fines are allowing the state Department of Environmental Quality and state police to buy air monitoring equipment, vehicles, clothing, safety goggles and first aid kits.

Tim Knight, administrator of DEQ's assessment division, tells The Advocate the $1 million in fines allows the state to purchase the items.

Officials say diesel found in liquefied swampland

Aug 7, 2012

State officials say preliminary slurry water samples pulled from the acre of swampland that liquefied into muck over the weekend indicate the presence of small amounts of diesel hydrocarbons.

The pond of muck, located in Assumption Parish, first appeared Friday night and grew quickly, bending a 36-inch natural gas pipeline buried 16 feet in the ground as the muck expanded. About 150 homes and several businesses were ordered to evacuate after Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency for the parish when the slurry area appeared to be expanding.

State officials say a stinky smell reported from Bayou Manchac last week stems from stagnant swamp water in Spanish Lake that heavy rains pushed into the bayou.

Rodney Mallett, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, tells The Advocate in an email that inspectors reached that conclusion by tracking the flow of the water, visual observations and some field parameters.

Mallett said the stagnated water washed through Alligator Bayou to Bayou Manchac.

DEQ officials say the same phenomenon has occurred a few times a year for the past three to four years.

State officials want to know exactly when ExxonMobil Chemical Plant staff knew that the amount of released naphtha, which includes benzene, was much higher than originally reported in the wake of a June 14 spill at the Baton Rouge facility.

The Advocate reports the Department of Environmental Quality issued a compliance order and notice of potential penalty against plant that in part states the facility did not notify the state and other agencies when estimates of a leak amount June 14 substantially changed.

GEISMAR — A Houston-based chemical company contends it should not be penalized for a March plant fire at its vinyl chloride complex here because an unexpected and unprecedented chemical chain reaction touched off the fire.

A new audit says the state Department of Environmental Quality didn't have proper controls over a state program meant to keep tires from being dumped illegally, allowing overpayments.

The report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office says DEQ allows waste tire processors to weigh their own tire shipments, rather than confirming the weight through a third party. Since the payments are based on weight, the audit says the lack of confirmation gives processors an ability to overstate what they've done.

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