Quantcast

Louisiana Residents Demand Cleaner Air from ExxonMobil

Louisiana Bucket Brigade

Beleaguered ExxonMobil refinery Manager Steven Blume received letters from 1,363 residents across south Louisiana urging reduced accidents at his refinery. Citing the troubled refinery’s ongoing accident problem, especially during storms, the letters urge Mr. Blume to upgrade equipment, hire more workers, improve emergency alerts and implement proper shut downs of the refinery in advance of storms.

“ExxonMobil’s profit last year was $30 billion and they can afford to do better,” said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “Hiring more workers—not contractors—would be a good start.”

The letters delivered Dec. 21 were presented in front of the Louisiana Mid Continent Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group that frequently defends ExxonMobil at the expense of Louisiana residents. The letters were collected via door-to-door outreach about ExxonMobil’s accidents. Mr. Blume has refused to meet to receive the letters, continuing a pattern of refusing to meet to discuss his beleaguered refinery’s accidents. This delivery of the letters occurred two years after the first invitation to talk about accidents was extended in November 2009.

At issue are both accident reduction and the need to hire more full time union workers to prevent those accidents.

"Refiners have a duty to their workers and the community to operate their refineries safely and be prepared for any storms that may come," said United Steelworkers International Vice President Gary Beevers. "ExxonMobil can do better in terms of maintaining its equipment, being ready for storms and hiring more employees to ensure safe operation of its facilities. Too often contractors are hired and they lack the knowledge, experience and training of a full-time employee."

From 2005-2010, the ExxonMobil refinery reported 672 accidents—an average of more than two each week—to the state Department of Environmental Quality. Thirty percent of the air emissions from these accidents were due to storms. The storms’ significant cause of accidents as well as the feasibility of preventing these accidents is the reason that the letters are focused on storm preparation. “We are in south Louisiana and we know it will rain,” said Ms. Rolfes. “Residents are expected to be prepared and refineries should be too.”

Hurricane Gustav in 2008 was a particular problem for ExxonMobil. The refinery released 1.25 million pounds of toxic air emissions during a 12-day span.

The management at ExxonMobil has consistently minimized concerns about accidents by saying that many accidents are “below reportable quantities.” However, such accidents can be serious as shown by an April 14, 2010 fire that had no release above reportable quantities but did send three workers to the hospital.

Additional arguments by the refinery include the need to operate during storms to ensure the nation’s supply of gasoline. The refinery, however, has never provided evidence to support this claim. Louisiana residents assembled Dec. 21 believe that the refusal to properly prepare for storms is instead about a relentless drive for profits.

For more information, click here.

—————

Community Empowerment for Change’s mission is to improve the quality of life in East Baton Rouge Parish by fighting environmental racism and improving environmental health.

The United Steelworkers has 1.2 million active and retired members strong. You'll find us fighting for a better life for all workers in union halls, at the work place, in the courts and in legislatures.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is an environmental health and justice organization supporting neighborhoods’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable communities free from industrial pollution.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A dead sea lion on the beach at Border Field State Park, near the international border wall between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. Sherry Smith / iStock / Getty Images

While Trump's border wall has yet to be completed, the threat it poses to pollinators is already felt, according to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, as reported by Transmission & Distribution World.

Read More Show Less
People crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on July 20, 2017 in New York City sought to shield themselves from the sun as the temperature reached 93 degrees. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

by Jordan Davidson

Taking action to stop the mercury from rising is a matter of life and death in the U.S., according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Salmon fry before being released just outside San Francisco Bay. Jim Wilson / The New York Times / Redux

By Alisa Opar

For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn't just strong — it's imperative. And for the first time in more than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from California's San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual spring run.

Read More Show Less
AnnaPustynnikova / iStock / Getty Images

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD

Shiitake mushrooms are one of the most popular mushrooms worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Protesters hold a banner and a placard while blocking off the road during a protest against Air pollution in London. Ryan Ashcroft / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Dozens of students, parents, teachers and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London's southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images

By Bridget Shirvell

On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.

Read More Show Less
Coal ash has contaminated the Vermilion River in Illinois. Eco-Justice Collaborative / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.

That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.

Read More Show Less

picture-alliance / AP Photo / NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

The Group of 20 major economies agreed a deal to reduce marine pollution at a meeting of their environment ministers on Sunday in Karuizawa, Japan.

Read More Show Less