July 29, 2009
Mr. Wayne Landry
St. Bernard Parish Councilman-At-Large
8201 West Judge Perez Drive
Chalmette, LA 70043
Dear Mr. Landry:
Thank you for hosting the July 22, 2009 meeting, which began discussions with Murphy Oil's Meraux refinery on a variety of issues that have an immediate and adverse impact on health, safety and quality of life. Specifically, Murphy Oil identified known sources of past excessive noise levels and vibrations to our homes.
We have an unfortunate zoning situation with heavy industry adjacent to residential neighborhoods. Despite its industrial zoning, excessive noise is out of place and unwelcome here. No neighborhood should be subjected to such "typical refinery noises" yet these noises continue to disturb us at all times of the day and night. Therefore, measures that are appropriate for normal industry practice are inadequate under these circumstances. Murphy Oil must recognize the need to do more than other refineries that are properly buffered from residences.
Throughout the recent past, residents have endured countless days of continuous ear-splitting noise levels or roaring noise that sounds like jet engines. One noise source Murphy Oil identified was a steam atomizer on an over 140 foot-high flare. Residents made numerous complaints to the refinery, yet, Murphy Oil did not repair this atomizer for a long time. Now, Murphy Oil identified another noise source: the new low-NOx burners. When the next excessive noise once again forces us to leave the area or become prisoners in our own homes, what plans will our local officials’ have in place?
These issues are serious and will not go away until the residents are truly protected with sustainable, long-term solutions. Residents must be protected to a higher standard than typical OSHA regulations, and it is our local officials’ duty to implement an enforceable compliance plan. Periodic meetings may help Murphy Oil continue to address their residential neighbors’ concerns.