Thursday, December 29, 2011

storm water & waste treatment problems

June 2009 and July 2011 Refinery floods into neighborhood around the 4:14 minute mark

December 2009  rainfall causes oily discharges

July 2005    waste treatment plant bypasses

December 2009    no berms, only sand bags

Public Meeting Questions

"" At least twice in the public meeting , the DEQ representatives stated NO oil and / or oily wastes are sent to the ponds. This is not true. The applicant attempted to assure the public that at least those wastes sent to the ponds were at least partially treated; that, "the really, really bad oil" was already removed.""

Does this mean they are sending the "good" oil through our neighborhood?

  Comments to DEQ requesting more protective measures

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sulfur Dioxide at Chalmette Vista

Sulfur Dioxide Health Standard exceedances, again, in Chalmette on Tuesday December 20th around midday. SO2 readings at Ch_Vista air monitor spiked to 159 ppb.

The EPA one-hour health standard for SO2 is 75 ppb.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

asbestos removal method shut down

"Public Justice, environmental groups and labor unions have long urged the EPA to shut down its asbestos-removal experiments," and finally EPA has shut down this dangerous asbestos removal method.  "The EPA conducted tests of this method and each time got releases of asbestos, potentially exposing on-site workers and nearby residents to the deadly carcinogen."  Sadly, this comes too late for the Gulf Coast residents who returned to rebuild after the Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.  Hurricane damaged homes sat idle for years.  A large number of these homes contained asbestos.  Even after demolition of the home, there remained the concrete slabs with asbestos flooring materials.

In St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana,  EPA's original plan to burn asbestos containing material at the Paris Road Landfill was changed after residents received help from Public Justice and Tulane University's Environmental Law Clinic.  EPA changed the test burn to include only none asbestos containing materials and vegetative debris. 

However, the questionable asbestos removal and demolition method continued with little safeguards for public health.  The hurricane damaged houses and buildings were simply sprayed with water from the nearby fire hydrants in an attempt to suppress asbestos release and contamination. Workers did not always wear protective gear and although the individual home lot was taped-off, residents were never notified.  Even school bus stops remained the same, allowing children to walk past active demolition sites.  There was other asbestos trouble at makeshift storage sites often located within residential-zoned districts.  Even the asbestos flooring glue residue on the concrete slabs was "sealed" with a red, pinkish paint.  Later slab removal and recycling occurred at newly permitted sites in close proximity of neighborhoods.

In the 2008 photo above, residents relax outside on their carport while an asbestos containing home is demolished. Notice the little yellow asbestos monitor on the empty house next door and another asbestos monitor adjacent to the occupied home.

Not as much water suppression as one might hope for.

Above photo:  A harsh chemical was used to remove the asbestos flooring glue. This chemical made residents feel extremely nauseated. The concrete slab was then painted with a red-pinkish seal before removal. The slabs were brought to a makeshift storage area where they were crushed and recycled.

Some of the recycled concrete was used to form 'T-Wall" structures for the MR-GO Levee repairs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

EPA Vetos Air Permit

As published in the December Federal Registry , the EPA responded in September 2011 to a citizen's petition to veto an air permit.

Represented by the Tulane University environmental law clinic, Concerned Citizens Around Murphy petitioned  the EPA to Object to the State issued operating permit for a benzene reducing unit at the Meraux refinery, formerly owned by Murphy Oil USA.  The petition shows miscalculations in the permit application and that the changes to the refinery are "major", triggering the requirements for more stringent pollution control technology.

December 2011 Louisiana DEQ response to EPA's order.  The LDEQ backs its decision to issue the air permit based on information in the original application.

Around the same time, the DEQ notified the refinery of deficiencies in recent stack tests on the sulfur recovery units and ROSE heater. ""For both of these tests, the specific conditions of the permit require that the tests be conducted at 80% of the maximum permitted capacity or greater. Since this was not done, the tests will have to be repeated at 80% of maximum permitted capacity or greater."  .

Saturday, December 10, 2011

drainage issues

Rain is a given in Southeast Louisiana.  An afternoon shower can easily dump four inches in a short amount of time.  Local code requires properties to drain to the street and not unto adjacent properties.

A construction site in Western Chalmette has been unable to contain it's own storm water and floods the adjacent neighborhood. The developer was recently ordered to remove the plastic chain wall and replace it with an appropriate concrete chain wall.  The removal of the plastic chain wall reveals even more issues.   Don't know what's going to be done about all the exposed wires.  There have been numerous other issues. 

This is what happens when construction proceeds without proper permits and inspections.

UPDATE:   12/12/2011 Photos construction of concrete chain wall
12/13/2011 photos
12/14/2011 photos

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 Offsite effect reports

Multiple Flaring events 12/2011



11/21/2011 new report of structural damages to home from refinery vibrations

9/21/2011 DEQ would not include the actual citizen's report, which is supplemented in the second link

Second Link: Actual report:

8/29/2011 refinery shaking houses

6/18/2011 manway leak

6/19/2011 diesel material in municipal rain ditch; facility cannot locate leak

5/18/2011 Odor in air, swollen nasal passages, coughing


Log April and June 2011

3/21/2011 strong odors

3/12/2011 smoky release

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

when they dont want

when oil companies don't want public participation
We hold out hope the new owners and their management will be different. We continue dialogue in good faith and hope for substantial improvements not only in the processing units but also in the refinery's attitude and behavior concerning community relations. We look forward to their acceptance of our invitation to a neighborhood meet and greet.

Prior to the sale of the refinery, when management purported to be the transition team, in a Fall 2011 public meeting, we explained the refinery processes and equipment are still shaking our houses. There was little to no response, no new expressed concern to further a solution. When asked for information on a particular August incident which caused houses to move and rumble, it was said there was no information for that date. However, the discussion became lengthy concerning the unacceptable treatment of community members. Those targeted were assured a full investigation is underway. As of Spring 2012 there is still no information.

If you or someone you know has experienced harassing and intimidation tactics from representatives of the refinery, please send your story to We view this pattern as a violation of our civil rights and it will not be tolerated. Most recently, in Fall 2011, threats of physical harm from refinery workers to residents who call-in, upon the refinery's request, with concerns about processing incidents. This type of behavior and attitude towards our community was discussed nearly a year and a half before Fall 2011 with the then current refinery manager. Instead of fixing the problem, the refinery crew would driveby the complainants home, make note of what cars were parked at which houses, and claim there was no odor, no noise. Later, residents were questioned by refinery security guards about who is visiting their homes and in what vehicles, volunteering information and the knowledge of what typed of vehicle the residents and their guests drove. Residents were specifically asked who drives a certain vehicle or who was visiting the home on specific days. No neighborhood should be subjected to this. Why are the refinery security guards conducting surveillance on the residents? Their fenceline is way on the other side of the neighborhood, past a pipeline easement which is supposed to serve as a dividing buffer to protect the neighborhood.


65373.7. Meraux Refinery Does Care, and will continue
.... .... tinman70068, 09/06/11 12:46 PM

Since I have been working for Meraux refinery, I have seen that the current management team is committed to keeping the environment safe, and the neighbors safe. PooPoo stirrers like Suzzane (who needs a good you know what) and the other guy, if forget his name are just using old out dated info to stir crap. It's rediculous some of the calls we get. The other day someone called to complain about the smoke coming from the marsh fire. Why call us? She insisted that we make it stop coming in her vents. WTF is wrong with you people. If you seriously don't want or like a refinery, then stop buying gas, and driving around in your cars. Go buy an electric vehicle if you feel so strongly against the refinery. Most are causing a stink because they are trying to get money that is what it is all about. The oil spill was a result of Katrina, not the deliberate act of Murphy. I get so frustrated with these ridiculous call sometimes I just want to chock you mofo's. Meraux refinery will con tinue to operate in a safe and environmentally friendly way no matter who owns us. Its like a family there and I'm glad to be working for them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

EPA Renewable Energy Proposal

Renewable Energy Production Proposal

The EPA is evaluating the feasibility of siting renewable energy production on potentially contaminated land, at the former Kaiser Aluminum waste pit site in Chalmette.  The proposal calls for a possible renewable energy production site, such as a bio-refinery. Yet, a records request for a copy of or a link to the proposal was denied by EPA because "the proposals are not publicly available."

The St. Bernard Parish Council is considering accepting donation of the contaminated land.   
.6. Motion to accept the land donation of the parcel of ground for Brownsfield Project with the Regional Planning Commission. (Administration)

This parcel of land is located just east of the National Historical War of 1812 Battlefield and Cemetery at Chalmette.  A summary of the Phase I environmental assessment of the Former Kaiser Aluminum waste site, also available on RPC’s Brownfields website:, describes the small acreage available. EPA 's proposal for renewable energy in St. Bernard Parish.   Louisiana DEQ's letter of support.   Phase II environmental assessment has been done and will be presented to the council in the near future.
Given the poor zoning, lack of appropriate buffer, exceedingly high sulfur dioxide levels, and Louisiana DEQ's recent recommendation to EPA on St. Bernard Parish's air quality non-attainment status for sulfur dioxide, this contaminated land should probably not be used for another refinery, bio or not.  This would just be another example of how clean fuels create dirty neighborhoods.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Live and Vote Home

Opinion from Laura  in N. O. W. citizen's group
 on the Lee Zurik Investigations   into Voter Fraud in St. Bernard

I don't know about the rest of you, but I really find it hard to feel

angry about this voter fraud situation.. Many of them are still "in"

the parish. They work here, they spend the better part of their day

here. All of their alliances and loyalties, political, personal,

financial, and heartfelt are still here in St. Bernard.

Instead of criticizing these people for voting in St. Bernard, I

understand their kinship and their love for the place that they "all"

call home. Katrina is "STILL" destroying our lives!! Many people I

know who left the Parish are discontent in the foreign communities in

which they find themselves. They miss the neighbors, communities,

Beauty, kinship and love that will not be found anywhere but St.

Bernard. So my criticism is for their living anywhere else. And I have

to agree that it is time for them to accept the reality of their

decision to live anywhere else.

So all of our wayward voters who decided to live outside of St. Bernard,

now is the time for them to take stock of their lives and make another

decision if necessary. If they want to have a say... to vote... for

issues and candidates that make up St. Bernard Parish... then they have

to live in St. Bernard Parish. We have plenty of homes and properties

to accommodate all of them!! Come home....

Live and Vote in St. Bernard!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

sulfur dioxide levels in Chalmette today

Ch_Vista community air monitor in St. Bernard Parish reading exceedingly high sulfur dioxide readings, viewable on Louisiana DEQ website, right hand side menu, ON AIR icon, select Site Data , select Ch_Vista, enter date

Today's sulfur dioxide levels (Nov. 16th) have already reached 375 ppb, well above the EPA one hour health standard of 75 ppb sulfur dioxide.

Click on picture for larger view
Below are the November 15, 2011 readings which peaked at 350 ppb sulfur dioxide

Click on picture for larger view

UPDATE:   Air Quality Readings for Sulfur Dioxide at Ch_Vista 11/26/2011  -  299  ppb SO2

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cypress Swamp to be restored

Mark Schleifstein - Times Picayune
In 1956, before the completion of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, the Central Wetlands contained about 8,000 acres of swamp, 7,600 acres of freshwater marsh, 4,000 acres of brackish and salt marsh, and more than 1,000 acres of forest. The MR-GO cut through several natural ridges in St. Bernard Parish, funneling salt water into the area, where it killed cypress and freshwater marshes. By 1978, only 28 acres of forest remained.

This is the very same Central Wetlands which DEQ allows an oil refinery to discharge untreated wastes during "emergencies" and malfunctions. Even just the smallest portion of such contaminants has a long term effect on the estuaries and ecology of the wetlands.

The refinery compliance history demonstrates difficulty in handling as little as a four inch rain. The waste treatment plant becomes overloaded and the wastes are stored in the rain water ponds, which are also inundated in such rain events. The refinery releases into the local canals which discharge into the nearby Central Wetlands. Even absent of rain, a malfunction of the waste treatment plant will bypass treatment and send wastes into the canals (  as in the July 2005 malfunction which sent over 5 million gallons into the neighborhood canals).

And this is completely avoidable with added storage tanks along with pipes to the river or even with pipes to the treatment ponds at the river. The DEQ needs to evaluate the current situation and determine which alternatives would completely avoid chemical discharges into the canals and nearby wetlands.

All this commitment and effort to restore the Central Wetlands should not be fouled by one industry.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

overflow problems

refinery floods neighborhood (around the 4:14 minute mark)

refinery flooding releases oily wastes through municiple pipes

waste ditch and ponds

The waste streams are allowed to flow from south of Judge Perez, north to an earthen ditch within close proximity of the Church which hosts vacation bible school for children.

The frequency of releases to the ponds and canals, even before Hurricane Katrina, is reason enough to require more monitoring and permit limits with a means for practical enforcement.  Absent of any sampling, the solution to this pollution is dilution in the ponds, and that is not acceptable.  If anything, the DEQ should require Murphy Oil to clean and restore the receiving waters of this waste, similar to how Murphy Oil clean Newton Creek. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Louisiana DEQ Meeting

DEQ Question and Answer Session
Thursday November 10, 2011 @ 6pm
St. Bernard Parish Council Meeting Room
8201 West Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, LA

RE: Valero (Murphy Oil) Water Discharges
plan for wastewater treatment malfunctions and
storm and hurricane preparedness plans

Whether you like to fish or canoe the 40 arpent canal or the Red Fish Cup Tournament from the Marina on Paris Road, your concerns for our water's quality needs to be heard. 

Aside from the overflow problem on the processing campus side that floods the adjacent neighborood and re-occurred as recently as July 18, 2011, (  a June 2009 overflow shown here around the 4:14 minute mark), most concerns focus on all the oil waste and other chemicals being washed through our neighborhood canals.  These local canals meandor through neighborhoods on their way to Bayou Bienvenue and Lake Bogrne. The proposed master landuse plan   under consideration by the SPBG HRQL includes added fishing and boat piers to these canals to encourage resident's use of our natural resources. Yet, the DEQ permit still allows the refinery to dump into our canals.

And this is totally avoidable.  Storm water containment through adequate storage capacity, adequate freeboard, berms and existing pipes to the river would bring this facility into compliance and protect our neighborhoods from chemical exposure; protect our waterways and fisheries.

The Louisiana DEQ will hold a Public Meeting in Question and Answer Format in the St. Bernard Parish Government Council Meeting Room in Chalmette on Thursday November 10, 2011 at 6pm regarding the (former Murphy Oil ) Valero Refining Water Discharges.

Immediately folllowing the Question and Answer Meeting, but no earlier than 7pm and no later than 7:30pm, the DEQ will conduct a formal Public Comment Hearing to enter any comments into the record. Written comments may also be submitted by Monday, November 14th to  Comments made in the Question and Answer Meeting are NOT entered into the record. All correspondence should specify AI #1238, Permit LA0003646, PER20090003.

The Draft permit is accessible at these links.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

refineries own the town?

Members of organizations around St. Bernard agree that both refineries deserve to own the local market because of their generous donations given to local businesses, but it should not denote health liberties of near-by residents.

Valero Murphy/Exxon Mobil ignore clean air
Editorial/Oct. 18, 2011
Two-Sided Explanatory/Argumentative
Never a blue sky in St. Bernard Parish

Never a blue sky in St. Bernard Parish

Refineries within the suburb still ignore health liberties



storm water canal pollution

STOP using our canals for industrial and commerical businesses

Federal Road Works Program polluting rain water canal which flows to Central Wetlands and Bayou Bienvenue.  Several times residents have ask the Parish and DEQ to address the issue of cement tools and materials being washed in the neighborhood canals by various commercial contracts and developments.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

D Freese Editorial

Never a blue sky in St. Bernard Parish

Refineries within the suburb still ignore health liberties


Murphy/Exxon Mobil ignore clean air

Editorial/Oct. 18, 2011

Two-Sided Explanatory/Argumentative

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

land redistribution plan

The Louisiana Land Trust (LLT) will soon transfer to St. Bernard Parish Government over two thousand vacant lots, mostly residential-zoned, acquired in the Federal Road Home grant program.  SBPG has already distributed many other lots through the lot next door program. The Housing, Redevelopment, and Quality of Life Commission (HRQL) will soon begin to public notice a proposed redistribution plan for the remaining properties and hold community public hearings and meetings.  The DRAFT proposal by Waggoner and Ball was presented to the HRQL at the September 21, 2011 meeting, viewable here

UPDATE:   Waggoner and Ball also presented the DRAFT proposal of ideas for redevelopment and redistribution to the LLT Board in October 2011.  Presumably this is the same pdf / power point presentation shown to the HRQL.

Page 58 of above link notes fishing and boat piers and other improvements, so residents can enjoy the natural resources of the 40 arpent canal.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

burning of road board approved

Open burning event scheduled to occur at Mantle Well site in Assumption Parish

DEQ Communications - 4 hours ago

Mantle Oil and Gas, LLC will use an air curtain destructor to burn road board used in the cleanup of a well blowout that occurred in Assumption Parish in August, 2010. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality issued the facility a permit to use the air curtain destructor and the burn will begin on Monday. The burn is a necessary waste handling measure that will burn more than 200 tons of road board.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

hydrogen sulfide

Yesterday, the peak hydrogen sulfide reading in Chalmette Vista was 16 ppb.  Some studies have shown "former workers and residents living downwind of a crude oil processing plant had neurophysiological abnormalities. Residents in this study were exposed to hydrogen sulfide at 10 ppb, although concentrations occasionally reached 100 ppb. " 

(from Earthworks) .

Monday, September 26, 2011

sulfur dioxide exceedances

Sulfur dioxide peaks in Chalmette Vista   9-25-2011   177 ppb
and 9-26-2011  226 ppb

the EPA one-hour health standard for sulfur dioxide is 75 ppb

Sunday, September 25, 2011

coke barn repairs update

ExxonMobil's refinery at Chalmette has been placed under a compliance order by Louisiana DEQ to make certain repairs to its coker unit storage barn by end March 2012.  LDEQ will incorporate this specific requirement into ExxonMobil's air permit renewal for the unit. 

coke barn roof condition May 2011

coke barn roof condition January 2011.

These broken roof panels can be carried by wind and tropical storms onto adjacent worksites or into residential neighborhoods, causing physical harm.

 pg 39 ExxonMobil CRLCC proposed the following repair plan for the coke barn

1) Remove all of the sheeting (roof panels), purlins, roof struts, bracing, and roof rafters.

2) Wash concrete pad/floor of building to removee any remaining coke particulates to eleimanate potential of particulate emissions after roof panels are removed.

LDEQ will include a Specific Requirement in Permit renewal requiring these activities be completed before March 31, 2012.

Friday, September 23, 2011

EPA Vetoes Air Permit

Remands to LDEQ for Further Review

(St. Bernard Parish, LA) –  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, rejected a Clean Air Act permit for Murphy Oil, Inc.'s Meraux, Louisiana refinery.

The pollution permit is for a processing unit for low-benzene gasoline products at Murphy Oil's Meraux refinery and is part of the EPA’s clean fuel mandates.  The benzene reducing unit was constructed and placed into service in March 2011 at the Meraux, Louisiana refinery. Early this month, Valero Energy Corporation announced its agreement to purchase the Meraux refinery pending regulatory approvals.

LDEQ based the permit limits on pollution estimates that fell below a threshold for installation of state-of-the-art pollution controls (known as Best Available Control Technology).  The Concerned Citizens’ petition to EPA, however, showed that LDEQ miscalculated and that changes to the refinery are "major," triggering the requirement for more stringent pollution control technology. The petition also showed that LDEQ failed to gather enough emission data to make a reliable judgment about whether Murphy’s application triggered the requirement for state-of-the-art controls.  EPA agreed, objected to Murphy Oil's permit, and remanded the permit application to LDEQ for further review.

The EPA granted the citizen's petition that LDEQ failed to provide adequate public comment responses regarding sufficient information in the permit records. EPA wrote, "We cannot determine whether all necessary information is located within the permit records." "Many of the emission calculations were illegible and supported only by reference to personal emails between Murphy Oil employees and their consultant."

Comments made by Concerned Citizens in the July 2009 public hearing explained “it is difficult, if not impossible to comment .... without seeing the basis of emission calculations." Public records requests by the Concerned Citizens for specific information from LDEQ on Murphy Oil's emissions calculations were unanswered.

The EPA also agreed that data for certain emission calculations were not included in the permit record, including the releases made during emergency flaring, emissions due to malfunctions at the benzene unit, and the total estimated sulfur content of the refinery fuel gas. LDEQ must also respond to public comments on emission increases due to roof landings for the floating roof tanks.

The Concerned Citizen’s view the petition to EPA as part of their ongoing participation in the public permitting process. Concerned Citizens is a residents’ advocacy group whose purpose is to protect the health, safety, environment, and quality of life of Meraux and the surrounding communities in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Candidate Forums

SEPTEMBER 26th,  27th, 28th  7pm   Alliance for Good Government Candidate Forums @Nunez Community College Auditorium
Sept. 26th
Sept. 27th  All Council District Seats
Sept. 28th

OCTOBER 1st  6PM Pastor's Coalition Candidate Forum @ 1st Baptist Church

The St. Bernard Pastor's Coalition will sponsor a forum for candidates for St. Bernard Parish president and St. Bernard sheriff. The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 1 at the First Baptist Church, 305 E.
St. Bernard Highway in Chalmette. 

The coalition said the four candidates for sheriff and the four candidates for parish president have been invited.
The St. Bernard Parish Pastor's Coalition, a group of nearly 30 evangelical churches in the parish, does not endorse candidates for office.  The election is Oct. 22. Runoffs, if necessary, will be Nov. 19.

September 29th, October 5th, October 18th  6pm  St. Bernard Parish Chamber of Commerce Political Forum @ St. Bernard Parish Council Chambers

Sept 29th Louisiana State House and Senate Seats and St. Bernard Parish Councilman-At-Large East and West Seat Candidates

Oct 5th  St. Bernard Parish President, Sherifff, Assessor, and Clerk of Court Candidates

Oct 12th  All St. Bernard Parish Council Distict Seat
Location: St. Bernrad Parish Council Chambers. Chamber of Commerce Members are asked to send questions, noting the specific candidate to question. Opportunty to submit questions is only available to Chamber Members.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

air strikes

St. Bernard Parish’s failure to meet EPA’s new health protection standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) for sulfur dioxide (SO2) concentrations in community air may have a connection to lax emissions controls.  More stringent, state-of-the-art pollution controls may provide a solution.

In May 2011, the LDEQ recommended a non-attainment status for air quality in St. Bernard Parish based on community monitors that demonstrate exceedingly high sulfur dioxide levels. With such exceedingly high air concentration levels, even small increments exacerbate the adverse health effects.

Last week, Murphy Oil had a sulfur dioxide (SO2) release of about 450 pounds, just under the reportable quantity of 500 pounds for SO2. Yet, the community ambient air monitor on nearby Ventura Drive  measured a reading of 54 ppb SO2 hourly average. The actual real time readings are higher than the displayed averages.  In the same time frame, another “air-strike” or spike in SO2 readings occurred further west in Chalmette, along the ExxonMobil refinery corridor where the LDEQ Chalmette Vista air monitor measured 196 ppb SO2 hourly average.


Friday, September 16, 2011

M / V Plant Update

65517. Murphy/Valero Update from a resident CAP member   09/16/11 12:32 AM

Murphy scheduled to transfer on October 1 2011 to Valero Energy Corp.

The company owns 16 other refineries.

They invest in alternative energy such as ethanol and wind mills.

Regional V.P. refers to the area where Murphy bought residences as a "Green Belt" similar to buffer areas around existing Valero refineries near residential areas with no plans for use in any other way but as green belt..

All Murphy employees will be hired by Valero .

Valero hopes to continue and improve best safety practices as well as community relations.

The Citizens Advisory Comittee and current members will continue to meet monthly.

There is a potential for expansion within the plant as it exists.

(IMO) Not much will change.
Note on greenbelt and transfer of LLT properties to refinery
HRQL Meeting 8-24-2011 around the six minute mark

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

sulfur dioxide @ chalmette

sulfur dioxide exceedances again @Ch_Vista monitor.
September 13, 2011 peak SO2 reading of 196 ppb.  EPA health standard for SO2 is 75 ppb.

In June 2011, Louisiana DEQ recommended a nonattainment status for St. Bernard Parish for sulfur dioxide.  By February 2012,  EPA will confirm and or modify the State's recommendations.  By February 2014, each State must submit a plan of action designed to reduce the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the community's air.  For more information on the new sulfur dioxide health standards click here

The Ch_Vista monitor data is accessible at the LDEQ website , right hand column menu, ON AIR icon, select site data,  select Ch_Vista 

St. Bernard Parish has two other ambient air monitors.  One at Joe Davis Elementary school, called the Meraux site, which is accessible at the LDEQ website, ON AIR menu, select site data, select Meraux. 

The other ambient air monitor in St. Bernard Parish is located in the Murphy Oil area on Ventura Drive.  The Ventura Drive air monitor data is accessible here:     Murphy Oil Monitor 

On September 13 2011, the Ventura monitor sulfur dioxide reading also peaked around the same time of day.  The peak SO2 reading at the Ventura site was 54 ppb.  These readings are averages.  One would need access to the actual SO2 readings to determine peak sulfur dioxide short term exposure.

Our air in St. Bernard Parish is so heavily concentrated with sulfur dioxide, that industries emissions in the aggregate are unhealthily for all community members, and even perhaps seemingly small increments of this chemical will cause adverse health effects  in the community. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

SO2 readings Chalmette Vista

Air quality readings in Chalmette spiked today at 296 ppb sulfur dioxide.  The EPA has set a new sulfur dioxide health standard of 70 ppb.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

sulfur dioxide peaks

CH_Vista air monitor in Chalmette, LA peaked sulfur dioxide readings today at 223 ppb .  The EPA set a new sulfur dioxide health one-hour standard at 70 ppb.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

through Eddie's lens

St. Bernard 's rebuilding and recovery through the lens of Eddie Evans


Friday, September 2, 2011

buffer zone update


Seafood business expansion in buffer zone may be back on horizon.

Despite setbacks from the oil spill of the BP rig explosion, a St. Bernard Parish seafood restaurant seems set to benefit from another oil spill and it’s resulting court ordered buffer zone.

 Last year, the business agreed  to purchase three adjacent buffer zone lots for $10,000 each, but those sales agreements were let to expire.  Those three properties were originally sold to Murphy Oil USA, Inc. pursuant the crude-oil-spill class action, Turner v Murphy Oil, for $44,000, $53,040, and $94,560, respectively.  The court-ordered voluntary option for homeowners in a particular segment of the oil spill to sell to the oil company was intended  "to create a buffer".

Today's prices for three adjacent buffer zone lots are as low as $4,000 per lot. It’s the catering part of the business which was said to expand last year, as this business caters to local industry turnarounds and other events, including the BP oil spill catering needs.  While residents support local business, it should not be at the cost of their neighborhood or their home property values. At $4,000 per lot for commercial development instead of greenspace, that hardly helps property values or the parish tax base.  When Planning Commissioners asked if this was the land Murphy Oil is supposed to present a plan for, the applicant stated he spoke with Murphy Oil just today and they came up with something but they are tweaking it, so he did not have the plan with him.

The neighborhood hopes the expected future zoning change application will include long awaited improvements for truck traffic , adequate unloading area, customer parking, drainage and ample safety margins for the three large propane tanks added since Hurricane Katrina.

The Murphy Oil crude-oil-spill case, Turner v Murphy, ordered the Meraux Refinery ‘s voluntary buyup program, which is intended “to create a buffer.” The agreement did not allow Murphy Oil to re-sell the buffer zone properties for commercial or industrial uses; residents were told by Murphy Oil, and relied on this information to base their decisions, that the land would be used for  a green zone buffer.

Now, residents wonder what’s next on the menu. Murphy Oil has already purchased several Road Home or LLT Lots in the neighborhood despite a promise to residents from St. Bernard Parish Government that no LLT properties would be transferred to the Meaux refinery without a landuse plan. The Meraux Refinery is also using some of the homes purchased for the buffer as work bunk housing instead.  Additionally, Murphy Oil officials have recently offered an explanation of their agreement with the local Court House, Clerk of Court not to release the buffer zone real estate transactions for publication, further keeping public information from residents.  Neighbors think this is all too fishy.

The St. Bernard Parish Council previously agreed not to rezone anything in this neighborhood until Murphy Oil provided two things to the residents of St. Bernard: 1) its Master Plan for the current facility and 2) a written plan of their long-term intent for the former "buyout" area. Only than could residents fully participate in an informed discussion to consider changes around the existing greenspace or buffer.  That is their right to full and equal access to information before the decisions are made; its part of their right to secure tenure.

In the Fall of 2005, these dedicated neighbors were some of the first residents to return after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and the Murphy Oil spill, even celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas 2005 in their restored homes. They have already presented their vision for the revitalized neighborhood’s future and they have an equal right to the long-term security of their community, as much as any other neighborhood in the Parish.  Yet, they sadly suspect local government and the Meraux Refinery have other plans.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

word press

Keeping up with Murpy oil  :  A lesson in how to discourage participation in a community meeting.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Citrus Grove Planting


This weekend, to commemorate our district's revitalization, residents planted a community citrus grove on vacant lots.

Rediscover District C
Come Grow with Us 

Federal Levees failed

  According to  .......... just discovered footage we just had to share.

Although the information contained in this video is not new, most of the footage you are about to see is new.
Mere months after the federal levees failed in New Orleans after Katrina, the Corps of Engineers awarded an elite engineering group a grant to conduct what was basically a PR show to repair the Corps' damaged reputation. The grant steered money to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to present powerpoints apparently designed to mislead the American public on what caused the August 2005 flooding. ( discovered the details about the multi million grant in a request under FOIA.) It's bad enough that the presentations contained lies and spin designed to shift blame for the flooding away from the Corps and onto the people of New Orleans. The American taxpayers also paid for it. The information in this video is not new, but most of the footage is new. Not to be accused of taking anything 'out of context', we have uploaded a 15-minute segment -- the longest that YouTube allows - of the full 80-minute presentation and you can see even more of the travesty for yourself.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

FEMA road work

FEMA  Submerged Road Work crews failed to replace barricades after cement was poured.  This car was traveling on the east side of the street, the only side available.  Further up, the subcontractors failed to move barricades and cones to indicate a lane shift and to block off newly poured cement.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Public Meetings with Murphy


156D. Public Meetings. Beginning no later than 90 days from the Date of
Entry, Murphy shall sponsor and provide for meetings to be held on a monthly
basis (and at least ten months in each calendar year) at a location and time that is
convenient for members of the Concerned Citizens Around Murphy ("CCAM"), a
Louisiana non-profit organization, and any other residents living nearby the
Meraux Refmery (within a 3-mile radius). Such meetings are intended to provide
a mutually beneficial forum for discussion of matters of concern to those living
nearby the Meraux Refmery, and shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, any
Community Advisory Panel ("CAP") that may be sponsored or held by Murphy;
however, upon the mutual written agreement by Murphy and CCAM, such
meetings as required by this Paragraph may be merged with the CAP. Not less
than five (5) working days prior to each meeting, Murphy shall provide general
notice of the meeting's time and location, and shall additionally notify one or
more members of CCAM who are designated by CCAM to receive notice. At
each meeting, Murphy shall provide copies of any preliminary Refmery
Emissions Data for the immediately preceding 30 or 60-day period
i.e., the
period of time since the immediately preceding meeting) to CCAM members, and
any other nearby residents, attending the meeting. Murphy may, at Murphy's

... -~


option, post on the Monitoring Data Website additional data
, report(s), or other
information as would facilitate communications between Murphy and members of
the public at the meeting. If a CCAM member notifies Murphy of difficulty
accessing the data, report(s) or other information, Murphy shall provide the data,
report(s) or other information to the CCAM member by electronic mail upon
receiving notice of the request. Such meetings shall include, at a minimum, the

a. An oral report by a knowledgeable Murphy official of progress in

implementing the provisions of this Consent Decree, and of any problems
encountered or anticipated by Murphy with respect to meeting the requirements of
the Consent Decree, during the immediately preceding 30 or 60-day period, as

b. A presentation of the CAM Station Data collected, preliminary

Refinery Emissions Data, refmery CEMS data
, and flow data to the North and
South refinery flares covering the immediately preceding 30 or 60-day period, as
applicable. Refmery CEMS data and flow data to the North and South refinery
flares for the immediately preceding 30 or 60
-day period may be presented by
Murphy in chart form or similar summary fashion; and

c. Any other issues identified by either Murphy or CCAM for

discussion at that month's meeting. In the notice provided by Murphy of the
meeting's time and location pursuant to this Paragraph, Murphy shall provide a
means for CCAM or any other residents to identify topics for discussion at that
meeting. Such meetings shall include sufficient time for discussion of questions
or issues to be raised by members of the public

d. By no later than 45 days from the Date of Entry, Murphy shall

host an evening community town hall meeting to explain this Consent Decree as it
relates to the Meraux Refinery to any interested residents.

I 56E. Community Enhancements. Murphy shall undertake the following
projects or measures for the benefit of the residential community near the Meraux


a. By no later than 270 days from the Date of Lodging, Murphy shall

secure the services of a qualified
independent third-party contractor to conduct a
noise survey along the 2000, 2100, 2200, and 2300 blocks of Jacob Drive or
Despaux Drive (between St. Bernard Highway and Ohio Street) in Chalmette,
, for a minimum of seven (7) consecutive days during normal refining
operations (e.g
., not during refinery turnaround periods, or during periods of a
curtailment of operations due to weather or for other reasons). The independent
contractor shall identify whether any noise levels are in excess of65 dB (as
provided in Chap. 11, Art. I, Sec. 11-4(b) ("Loud Machinery") of the St
. Bernard
Parish, Louisiana). Based on the results of the survey, Murphy shall identify and
implement reasonable measures to mitigate any such excess noise levels to
comply with Chap. 11, Art. I, Sec
. 11-4(b). The noise survey results shall be
made publicly available by Murphy pursuant to the provisions of Paragraph 156D,
and Murphy shall further include a discussion of the results and proposed
mitigating measures (if any) during the Pub
lic Meeting(s) required by Paragraph

b. By no later than 90 days from the Date of Lodging, Murphy shall

erect a fence to protect and preserve the Villere Plantation ruins
. By no later than
180 days from the Date of Lodging, Murphy shall create a conservation servitude
for the Villere Plantation ruins in accordance with La. Rev. Stat
. §§ 9:1271 et seq.

c. At the Public Meetings held pursuant to Paragraph 156D, Murphy

shall report on its efforts to suppress the creation of dust caused by the aggregate
surface, vehicular traffic or wind in the parking lot area located at the refinery's
western boundary pipeline easement

Thursday, August 11, 2011

public meeting August 16th @ Murphy Building

-- Public Meeting Tuesday August 16th at 6:30pm at the Murphy Oil Building, 1615 E. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette

The Public Meetings with Murphy Oil are scheduled for the third Tuesday of the Month. This month's meeting is expected to include information about the new air monitor on Ventura Drive in Chalmette. The meetings are open to the public.

The recent U.S. EPA consent decree with Murphy Oil requires the community air monitor, which tests for benzene, toluene, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and other chemical releases from Murphy's Meraux Refinery. The monitor is located on Ventura Drive in Chalmette. Air testing results will post on a public website. Murphy Oil will also provide a computer at a public area, such as the local public library, for residents to access the data.
UPDATE:   Murphy Oil  air monitor website

For more information email .


Friday, August 5, 2011

storm drains

There's a storm drain under this pile of gravel.  Residents are concerned about heavy rains and tropical weather and hope the street crews return soon.  It's been about three weeks.

August 11th Political Forum

POLITICAL FORUM 2011 - Prospective Candidates for St. Bernard Parish President and St. Bernard Parish Sheriff; The event will be held Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 6 p.m. at COUNCIL CHAMBERS 8201 W Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, LA  Doors open at 5:30pm

It is open to the general public at no cost. Space is limited so reservations must be made in advance. Reservations will only be accepted via email at You must leave the full name and phone number of each person attending. Any questions or concerns you may have for the candidates may also be submitted via email. This forum is sponsored by a citizen coalition. For more information, you can contact Kim Bright at 309-8889.

Q & A sessions will be conducted by the moderator. We ask that you submit your question via by Tuesday, August 9, 2011.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

storage tank leak at Murphy Oil June 2011

On June 18, 2011

storage tank at Murphy Oil leaking low-benzene gasoline.

:  7:15am the gasoline was discovered to have leaked from the floor of the storage tank; about 5 barrels. The facility diked the area to contain the spill and used a vacuum truck to remove. The low benzene gasoline was transferred to another tank. The tank was flushed with water and repairs were underway. LDEQ conducted air monitoring and nothing was detected by the MSA air monitor.

Posted to EDMS in early August 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

rain, rain and more rain in the forecast

Recent rain illustrates the continuing issues of refinery storm water run-off.

Aside from inadequate storm water capacity at the processing campus and issues of refinery parking lot rain run-off, homeowners report the continuing flood problems from Murphy-owned properties in the neighborhood. These properties were purchased by Murphy Oil through the former voluntary buyup program pursuant the crude oil spill case, Turner v Murphy.

Murphy Oil remediated some, but not all, properties in an arbitrarily designated area. Properties outside this area were not remediated. The remediation consisted of the removal of about six inches of top soil/oil and the addition of a layer of river-sand fill.

That river-sand fill was not always to grade and not always properly sloped to drain to the street. Coupled with lack of chainwalls, some of these Murphy-owned lots now drain onto adjacent homeowner’s properties, causing flooding. The inadequate fill and grading also causes some Murphy-owned lots to hold water and breed mosquitoes.

The Parish began enforcing local code for similar issues with LRA/LLT lots and has been requested to do the same with the Murphy-owned lots. We are entering the rainy, active tropical storm season and hope for timely improvements.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

oil-water discharges

Reuters reports no flood impact on New Orleans area refineries.

Some oil refineries are allowed to make "emergency discharges" into neighborhood canals to prevent the processing plants from flooding. Instead, the oil companies should be required to increase the plant's storm water capacity.  Rain is a given in Southeast Louisiana.

The Spill, Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan and the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans could include containment berms around storm water basins, or "ponds", and additional storm water storage tank capacity, so the oil refineries do not foul the neighborhood canals and nearby Central Wetlands.

The Murphy Oil Meraux refinery is permitted under its NPDES/LPDES to store oily-water or process water in its storm water ponds during rain events. According to WWL-TV New Orleans, the nearby Chalmette High School rain gauge measured 5.34 inches of rain the morning of July 18 2011 and measured over 8 inches of rain by the 10pm newscast.

Without berms, the storm water ponds reach capacity sooner, and the Murphy Oil Meraux refinery is permitted to make an "emergency" discharge into the neighborhood canals known as the 20 arpent canal and the Meraux canal. These canals meander throughout several neighborhoods before discharging into the sensitive Central Wetlands of Lake Borgne. The refinery could avoid the situation by planning for rain with berms and additional storage tank capacity. At present, it seems the Murphy Oil Meraux refinery LPDES permit identifies only two storm water tanks, which based on compliance history, are inadequate.

NOTE:  Unable to verify through Louisiana DEQ if in fact Murphy Oil made such an emergency discharge on July 18, 2011. What has been found is a report to the National Response Center concerning an oil sheen and use of booms in the 20 arpent canal.

The weather forecast later this week:   Cloudy with a chance of oil

Murphy Oil Meraux refinery uses sandbags instead of berms around the storm water ponds, which receive oily-water or process water during rain events.  Photo December 2009

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More sidewalks

There's nothing like being able to walk again in the neighborhood on sidewalks.

With the Mississippi River water levels returning to normal, work has begun again to replace the sidewalks  removed by Murphy Oil during demolition of houses sold in the former voluntary buyup.


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