Saturday, November 29, 2008

Here's a link to an article about the suit -

citizens enforcement suit

Friday November 21, 2008 10 a.m.

Air Pollution Suit Filed in Federal Court
Against Murphy Oil U.S.A., Inc.

Louisiana residents filed a citizens enforcement suit Friday in Federal District Court against Murphy Oil USA, Inc. alleging violations of the Clean Air Act at the Murphy Oil Meraux refinery. The violations include numerous incidents that released tons of sulfur dioxide and other harmful pollutants such as hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds into the neighborhood's air.

Meraux, LA November 21, 2008 – Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, on behalf of Concerned Citizens Around Murphy (CCAM), filed a federal lawsuit Friday against Arkansas-based Murphy Oil USA, Inc. for violations of its air permit at its Meraux refinery.

This citizens enforcement suit is a last resort to a year-long attempt by the neighborhood association, CCAM, to obtain solutions to the refinery’s pollution and to preserve the residents' rights to clean air. CCAM seeks declaratory and injunctive relief that would provide continual compliance assurances, and civil penalties—paid to the U.S. Treasury— as high as $32,500 per day for each violation.

The Murphy Oil Meraux refinery allegedly violated the Clean Air Act over 130 times since October 2003 by releasing tons of sulfur dioxide and other harmful pollutants including hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds in amounts that exceed their permit limits. The lawsuit identifies incidents where Murphy Oil released pollutants at a pound-per-hour rate exceeding its permit limits often by a factor of a hundred, a thousand, and even a million. On a few occasions, the Murphy Meraux refinery exceeded its annual tons-per-year permit limit in a single emission event. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's public records note two of those plant malfunctions are still under investigation.

Residents believe these toxic releases adversely affect the community's health and safety. The concerned citizens seek declaratory and injunctive relief to force Murphy Oil to comply with their federal air permits and to deter future violations. The neighbors around Murphy's Meraux refinery view their enforcement action no differently than what other communities and homeowner associations do to protect their rights when a neighbor violates the law. CCAM member Suzanne Kneale explains, "What we have done is taken reasonable steps to assure the health and safety of our children. Murphy Oil left us no other course of action but to preserve our rights through the justice system."

Resident John Williams said, "The smells are so bad, we quit cooking outside. For a bar-b-que, we couldn’t even stay outside to enjoy it." John and his wife Kerry Williams have lived in the shadow of the Meraux refinery for nearly 22 years and fear the health effects of breathing their pollutants.

Other residents believe the refinery violated their rights by sending pollution across the fenceline. "Residents want the oil company to control their chemical discharges, noise and flaring within the limits of the law as they agreed to when they applied for air permits," stated Mike Sherwood, a life-long resident of St. Bernard Parish and a member of both the Meraux refinery's Citizens Advisory Panel and St. Bernard Parish's Murphy Oil Buffer Zone Committee.

Citing one of the recurring mishaps, such as broken compressors, Mike Miller asserts the vibrations from these malfunctions are felt inside his family's home and usually occur late at night. "I've called them several times before when the vibrations happen and they say, 'Everything is fine. We just blew a valve.' " Miller continues that "you go outside and the flames are blowing 60 feet in the air. I've also called DEQ several times. There hasn't been much change."

"It's difficult to raise our children here without the fear their development will be compromised or they will develop cancer one day from what Murphy puts out," Kneale added.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cypress Trees

Sign up for the December 4th Cypress Day of Action

Join Gulf Restoration Network, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper and others make a long-term commitment to Louisiana's forests.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What You Don’t Have Can’t Leak

Please see your nearby Louisiana facilities in a new report, released today,

“Chemical Security 101 –
What You Don’t Have Can’t Leak, or Be Blown Up by Terrorists”
by Paul Orum, Reece Rushing
Center for American Progress

"This report outlines how using safer and more secure chemicals or processes can make the most dangerous chemical facilities less attractive targets for terrorists" {and one might add, safer for our neighborhoods and the plant workers}.

The article states, "Solutions applicable to the top 101 facilities could improve safety and security at many other high-hazard facilities, including an additional 202 listed in this report."

{Both major refineries in St Bernard Parish are listed in this report. Exxon is in the top 101 and Murphy is ranked among the 202 high-hazard listed. Our community's only high school is located in between these two refineries. With only two east-west corridors, school buses, workers and residents traveling in the Meraux area have no choice but to travel through Murphy Oil's tank farm or processing-terminal area.}

Paul Orum continues: "Most of the top 101 facilities could convert to safer and more secure chemicals or processes already being used by similar facilities that do not endanger large numbers of people. In particular:

* Eight petroleum refineries could remove danger to 11 million Americans by substituting toxic hydrofluoric acid, used in refining crude oil, with sulfuric acid or emerging solid acid catalysts. This includes the ExxonMobil Corp. refinery in Chalmette, La., which puts over 1 million people in danger. " {A similar solution is suggested for the Murphy Oil Meraux refinery.}

Check out
Interactive Map:
101 Most Dangerous Chemical Facilities Can Convert to Safer, More Secure Alternatives

And CAP's 2007 study Toxic Trains and the Terrorist Threat: How Water Utilities Can Get Chlorine Gas Off the Rails and Out of American Communities

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Regional Solid Waste Transfer Station

The proposed site selection for a regional waste transfer station is adjacent to the recreational marina on Bayou Bienvenue in St Bernard Parish. One acre of the proposed site selection is potential wetlands.
Sign the petition. Tell the council to VOTE NO to Summary 2264 and Summary 2229
Public Hearing Tuesday November 18, 2008 11AM
Any interested person shall have the right to comment verbally or in writing at the public hearing. Written comments will be accepted and entered into the public hearing record for five (5) working days after the hearing.
Roxane Adams, Council Clerk
Wayne Landry, Council Chairman

Industrial Canal Project

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock Replacement Project

The Corps of Engineers is planning to dump TOXIC sediment removed from this project in ST. BERNARD PARISH just north of BAYOU BIENVENUE.

The meeting is at Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School at 1617 Caffin Avenue at 7PM-9PM. There is an open house from 6-7PM. Comments on the Notice of Intent to deposit fill material pursuant to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act are due by November 12, 2008. Comments on the SEIS are due November 25, 2008.

The draft SEIS and appendices are available at the St Bernard Parish Library, 7701 Judge Perez Dr, Arabi, LA or at

Comments On the draft SEIS are due by Nov. 25, 2008
mail to
US Army Corps of Engineers (PM-RP)
c/o Richard Boe P O Box 60267
New Orleans, LA 70160-0267

Industrial Canal lock price tag nowestimated at $1.3 billionby Mark Schleifstein, The Times-PicayuneWednesday October 15, 2008, 9:35 PM

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