Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why we need fenceline monitoring

Yesterday's two episodes highlight the need for good information at the time of release.

With real time data, residents can make their own informed decisions.

Murphy Oil's 125,000 barrel per-day Meraux refinery and our neighborhoods around Murphy have a similar yet very different history from that of the EPA Region 9 Featured Story linked below. The same solutions should be sought in all of our community's fenceline neighborhoods.

""The unprecedented Good Neighbor Agreement mandated not only state-of-the-art, real-time, 24-hour optical sensing of dozens of chemicals, but also required the sharing of all data with the community, and placement of a real-time computer monitoring screen in the home of a local resident. ""

February 25, 2009 incident

Some St. Bernard Parish residents report heavy smoke from Murphy refinery stack

by The Times-PicayuneWednesday February 25, 2009, 2:51 PM

This yellowish discharge was brought down to street level in yesterday's variable winds.

The last photograph was taken around 5:15PM presumably during the subsequent startup.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

benzene saturation unit

Murphy Oil USA, Inc. submitted a significant modification application for The Meraux Refinery Title V/Part 70 air quality permit on February 25, 2009 in Vol. 1 and  Vol. 2. The application is to construct and operate a benzene saturation unit to produce low benzene gasoline products.  The proposed pollution permit seeks to use gasoline tanks with fixed roof(s), to route the "BenFree Unit" (BFU) to an inadequate gas recovery system, and to route H2S rich vent streams to the flare. To protect public health and safety, Louisiana DEQ must require stringent application of the best available controls to achieve the lowest emissions into the air we breathe.

The minimum minor modification fee was assessed, since there was no increase in the capacity at the facility.
Additionally, an air toxins surcharge was applied to the permit fee, since some emission rates will increase by an amount greater than the regulatory minimum emission rate for known carcinogens, human reproductive toxins, or known and probable carcinogens. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

February 6 2009

Opinion of Mike Sherwood submitted to resident members of the Buffer zone

Because the term “buffer zone” has not been defined or agreed on by the
residents and Murphy representatives, I cannot include or exclude parks, parking
lots or buildings as acceptable contents of this buffer zone.

Presently the empty space is somewhat of an effective buffer between the
residential neighborhoods and the refinery.

A master plan was requested (from Murphy Oil) by residents and our Parish
President and remains unavailable. A master plan in our opinion should include
the entire buffer zone plan, or projected plan by Murphy officials, from the
forty arpent canal to the Mississippi River. It should include their intentions
for the long term use of the entire buffer zone property insofar as expansion
or in utilizing buffer zone property to relocate existing facilities within
their present day fence line to buffer zone property accommodating further
expansion of refining processes.

The present offer by Murphy officials was to exchange a portion of buffer zone
property for the right to remove several residential streets in order to build
a parking area for temporary/contract Murphy employees. The property (received
by the Parish) was intended by Murphy officials to be used as a residential park
built and maintained with parish funds and funds donated by unspecified
organizations. It is my opinion that, while parks seem on the surface to be
desirable, Val Reiss park potentially fills the need of park facilities in this
neighborhood. Furthermore, since funds are not available presently to refurbish
our existing parks, building another park might prove to be an excessive burden
on the parish and otherwise unnecessary. There were other concerns regarding the
traffic flow on the one remaining street and other associated logistic issues
resulting from the street removal.

Residents in the area are skeptical and untrusting due to the lack of
information. Residents appear to view a “buffer zone” as an empty area devoid of
any structures or use other than forest . The residents are not in favor of
changing zoning in the buffer zone from residential to any other zoning
designation at this time.

While Murphy officials presented a generous offer, at this time there are too
many unanswered questions. Murphy officials stated on several occasions at the
most recent Buffer zone Committee meeting that their stance was that if the
committee members did not accept this suggested plan, there was no other plan
and that the property would remain as it is. Or to be more succinct Murphy
representatives comment was interpreted by several residents and members as this
or nothing. As previously stated above, empty space is a buffer.

I remain encouraged by the dialogue over the past few months and appreciate the
effort put forth by all parties. I recommend to committee members that the offer
on the table today by Murphy USA be rejected. I again ask Murphy USA to provide
a comprehensive master plan for the buffer zone and that the council place a
moratorium on any further use of the buffer zone property until such a plan is
presented to this committee.

I would ask the parish council to formally adopt the definition of the buffer
zone in Chalmette adjacent to the Murphy Oil plant as an area devoid of all
structures or use by residents or Murphy with the exception of forest.

Mike Sherwood

Buffer Zone Committee Chair

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