Saturday, June 11, 2011

River's effect on public health

Rising river effect on public health includes variances allowed by the Louisiana DEQ for petroleum coke in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana.

 ExxonMobil Chalmette refinery is storing petroleum coke in a blighted, open roof coke barn,
“on or about May 13, 2011, the Respondent contacted the Department by telephone to inform the Department of the need to use the No. 1 Coker Coke Barn........”

 and ExxonMobil Chalmette has applied for another variance to include flexibility in storage tanks and a variance for flaring, both due to the high river levels.

Rain CII is a coke plant adjacent to ExxonMobil Chalmette.  Rain CII has applied for a variance for an additional 150 hours of pollution control bypass in order to increase operations because of the river's effect on other coke plants.

Rain CII also seeks a regulatory permit for outside storage of petroleum coke; this request seems unrelated to the rising rivers levels.

Rain CII was recently placed under a Louisiana DEQ compliance order which allows 500 hours total pollution bypass operations; the variance allows an additional 150 hours bypass.

Both ExxonMobil Chalmette and adjacent Rain CII coke plant are located in Chalmette Vista.  The CH_VISTA air monitor demonstrates St. Bernard Parish  air quality frequently exceeds the new EPA one-hour health sulfur dioxide standard of 75 ppb, often times measuring over 200 ppb.  CH_VISTA air monitor also demonstrates a concern for particulate matter in the community.  The totality of emissions in this corridor has been reported to be unbearable at times.  The adjacent port and terminals recently began storing huge, uncovered piles of coal and limestone.  The poor zoning situation places all these emissions, dust and particulate matter within close proximity of residential neighborhoods.

Industries located along the river should be prepared for high river levels and plan for such occurrences, instead of permitted variances at the cost of public health.  Industry should be a good corporate citizen and realize they must do more to protect public health in their communities.

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