Tuesday, July 31, 2012

sulfur in Meraux

Elevated sulfur dioxide readings at Joe Davies Elementary school as measured by Louisiana DEQ's Meraux site air monitor.

Louisiana DEQ's Meraux site air monitor readings for sulfur dioxide this morning with wind direction around 258 degrees:
Add two hours to display time.  Readings accessible at this link this link, select site data, select Meraux,  select date.

3am 11.3 ppb SO2

5am 14.1 ppb SO2

6am 25.4 ppb SO2

7am 15.4 ppb SO2

Louisiana DEQ has stated levels of sulfur at 12 parts per billion SO2 trigger headaches and adverse quality of life.   Residents have reported both flares in use at Valero in recent days.

St. Bernard Parish Air Quality Report July 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 2012 air quality

July 2012 preliminary air quality numbers  as measured by the community's three air monitors :

LDEQ's  Ch_Vista and Meraux sites (under 'site data') and Valero's Ventura site.

In the Month of July, residents of St. Bernard Parish suffered from:

Levels of hydrogen sulfide higher than the 1.4 ppb recommended daily exposure. Nine days of hydrogen sulfide levels at or above 10 ppb H2S and two days of hydrogen sulfide levels at or above 30 ppb H2S, with the highest reading at 78 ppb H2S at Valero's Ventura site.  30 ppb H2S is the State of California's limit for H2S.  Louisiana doesnot have a health standard for H2S. 

Three Ozone Action Days where the ozone measured more than 75 ppb O3.

Three days of health standard exceedances for Sulfur Dioxide where the EPA sulfur health standard of 75 ppb SO2 was exceeded; the highest reading of 134.9 ppb SO2 as measured at LDEQ's Ch_Vista site.   Twenty-two days where the sulfur level exceeded 12 ppb SO2, the level LDEQ stated triggered headaches and adverse quality of life.

Five days of particulate pollution PM10 at or above 100 ug/m3; the highest reading measured at Valero's Ventura monitor at 129 u/m3 PM10.  The national air quality standard for PM10 is 150 ug/m3.

Nine days of fine particulate pollution PM2.5 levels above the standard of 35 ug/m3; the highest reading at LDEQ's CH Vista site of 102 ug/m3 PM2.5


Friday, July 27, 2012

MRGO is not closed

“My expectation is that we’re going to have to let the courts teach the corps of engineers phonics.”

----  Garret Graves, Chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, comment on U.S. Corps of Engineers decisions to delay restoration of MRGO

article by Mark Schleifstein

Thursday, July 26, 2012

power outage shutdown/startups

Valero's Meraux refinery had an emergency shutdown and subsequent startup of several units due to a power outage on Friday July 20, 2012, according to a follow up report from Louisiana DEQ. 

A downed electrical transformer is believed to be the cause of the power outage and an intensive root cause analysis is underway.  Valero's subsequent startup process resulted in high hydrogen sulfide levels in the adjacent neighborhood on Saturday night, July 21, 2012.  Some of the higher readings were at 78 ppb H2S, as measured by Valero's ambient air monitor on Ventura Drive, accesssible at this link..  The State of California's air quality limit for H2S is 30 ppb; the State of Louisiana does not have a health standard for H2S.

photo above of shutdown during fire at Valero refinery in Meraux, LA

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

rubber stamps

Valero Refinery - Meraux, LA shutdown production units after a fire this weekend. Damage assessment is underway and Valero will determine which units could safely remain online during repairs. That commitment to our community is appreciated.

Rain CII Carbon coke plant in Chalmette has recently experienced unexpected mechanical failure in the facility's turbine and an unexpected boiler tube rupture. But instead of a shutdown to make adequate repairs, Louisiana DEQ has granted several pollution variances. This is during a time when Louisiana DEQ's ambient air monitor has demonstrated health standard exceedances in the adjacent neighborhood for sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Even nearby industries have reported the pollution effects from Rain CII.

It is considered a violation of regulatory permits if control measures and equipment are not installed and properly operated and maintained.  Additionally, permits and variances do not authorize the maintenance of a nuisance or a danger to public health and safety.

Rain CII's Title V operating permit currently permits use of a Pyroscrubber Stack as a bypass stack for up to 500 hours per year.

In June 2011 Rain CII obtained a variance for 150 additional such bypass or "hot stack" hours due to increased production rates to keep up with customer demand since other Rain CII facilities were out of service due to the Mississippi River flooding. St. Bernard Parish residents and workers at nearby industry suffered the pollution effects.

In December 2011 Rain CII received a variance for an additional 350 hot stack or bypass hours due to a mechanical failure in the facility's turbine. In January 2012 Rain CII received a variance for an additional 350 hot stack or bypass hours due to the mechanical failure in the facility's turbine. That variance expired in February 2012.

Louisiana DEQ has designated St. Bernard Parish non-attainment for EPA's sulfur health standards and noted the exceedances are most likely majority attributed to pollution from Rain CII.

Yet, Louisiana DEQ continues to grant bypass variances and modifications to Rain CII's Title V air permit without consideration for emission reductions.  Also, these variances and modifications are not being public noticed.

Now Rain CII has an unexpected boiler tube rupture requiring the facility to request additional 336 hot stack or bypass hours. Without the variance, the facility would have to do what Valero and other industries in St Bernard Parish do: make adequate repairs.  That would be the right thing to do.

Yet, Lousiaian DEQ is now allowing yet another variance at the cost of our health. The July application seems to have been approved on  the same day, leading residents to believe this was a rubber stamp permit approval.



Sunday, July 22, 2012

hydrogen sulfide levels

Residents reported flaring, flaring associated odors, and a larger than usual discharge plume from the FCC stack at the Meraux refinery around 10:30pm on Saturday night, July 21, 2012, and further observed the wind carried the discharge towards the north of Judge Perez Drive.  Shortly before 2am on Sunday, July 22, 2012 "in an abundance of caution" residents on Jacob Drive were told it would be in their best interest to leave the area due to a chemical leak and possible fire.

At 4:15am on July 22, 2012 Valero reported to the National Response Center:

Valero's ambient air monitor is dependent on wind direction.  Hydrogen sulfide readings on July 21-22, 2012 were:  at 9pm - 78 parts per billion H2S, at 10pm - 36 ppb H2S, at 1am 44 ppb H2S.  Daylight saving time is not reflected in the results.  EPA's recommended daily exposure to hydrogen sulfide is 1.4 ppb H2S. The State of Louisiana does not have an air quality standard for hydrogen sulfide. The State of California air quality standard for hydrogen sulfide is 30 ppb. .

 Sulfur dioxide readings on July 22, 2012 were: at 2am 10 ppb SO2 and at 3am 15 ppb SO2.  Louisiana DEQ has stated sulfur dioxide levels at 12 ppb trigger headaches and other adverse quality of life effects. EPA's sulfur health standard is 75 ppb SO2.
Valero's ambient air monitor readings are accessible at this link after a 24 hour delay.  Valero's air samples for other chemicals can be accessed under Documents.


Valero's air sample results for other chemicals can be accessed under Documents at the same link.

Some of the chemical sampling results from the June 29 2012 sample analyzed July 10 2012 and the June 13 2012 sample analyzed June 30 2012:


Acetone 10.7 ppbv / 25.4 ug/m3  and 4.3 ppbv / 10 ug/m3

Ethanol 7.6 ppbv / 14.0 ug/m3 and 6.8 ppbv / 13 ug/m3

Ethyl Acetate 1.4 ppbv / 5.0 ug/m3 and 1.8 ppbv / 6.5 ug/m3

Toluene 1.0 ppbv / 3.8 ug/m3 and 1.5 ppbv / 5.7 ug/m3

Friday, July 20, 2012

rain event

WWL TV Slideshow of rain event in New Orleans today, July 20, 2012.

Today, Louisiana DEQ posted notice of enforcement action in EDMS document 8459340; unfortunately it does not include the June 2009 flooding event (around the 4:14 minute mark).

Also, posted just today in Louisiana DEQ's electronic database, EDMS document numbered 8459354 dated 6/25/2012   :  a memo to file for no further action for the June 8 2009 refinery flooding our neighborhood {around the 4:14 minute mark} with a note .....  "there was no information that there were any signs of the discharge at the site, no visual confirmation of the discharge, no statement obtained from the Respondent that the incident occurred, or any other information that the discharge occurred."

This is more than disappointing to the residents who not only contacted DEQ about this flooding but also provided video and photo confirmation of the discharge.  It is not the residents fault that DEQ didnot inspect the area until November 2010, or that the Respondent did not report the incident.  Residents also provided this information again to DEQ for the water permit renewal meeting and as comments to DEQ's settlement on water permit violations.   The last time this type of flooding from the refinery was observed by residents was on July 18, 2011 and it was reported to the community by Murphy Oil in the monthly community meeting. 

Unfortunately, DEQ does not accept reports, video or photographs from residents as confirmation.  

VIDEO of June 2009 flooding:   at the 4:14  minute mark


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

'lessons learned'

"The threat of future occurrences like this one were reduced by including a [VOLUNTARY] buyout program to establish a greenbelt/buffer zone around the Murphy facility...."  Global Risk Solutions, page 13


EPA R6 Oil Spill Map

SBPG Oil Spill Map

Now, SBPG moves forward with a Master Land Use Plan.   Funding for this endeavor may be the Turner vs Murphy Oil Crude Oil Spill "Cy Pres" Fund, according to the Chairman of the Planning Commission. 

 Councilmembers indicated they would have community meetings in each district for resident input and public information on the proposed changes to zoning and landuse throughout the parish.  The concern is what they are not making public.  Some Parish officials seek to rezone the neighborhood south of Judge Perez, just West of the Murphy facility.  The new zone would be "B", for "buffer zone" and according to one official, "buffer zone" would be defined "however we want it."  How convenient for an oil company that wants to expand into this exact area and what injustice for the residents who want to remain in the revitalized neighborhood. 

The worse of the oil spill was not even in this area, it was north of Judge Perez.  One parish official said he recently went around the south, west neighborhood speaking to residents to gauge their interest in selling to the oil company.  His indication for those not interested in this "last offer" was for The Parish to expropriate their renovated homes.  He said if SBPG accepted the "Cy Pres" funding, then  he was obligated to "fix" the buffer zone problem.  When asked what the problem was, he said it was the 500 angry people who would show up at public hearings in opposition to any zoning changes in the neighborhood.  And according to the official, that was a problem because the oil company wants a zoning change.

.The residents have a right to secure tenure :" the right of all individuals and groups to effective protection by the state against forced evictions".  This neighborhood also has the right to be treated like any other neighborhood, especially with regards to the new Master Land Use Plan's mission of preserving the integrity of neighborhoods in St. Bernard Parish.
SBPG can not afford to maintain and insure the numerous Louisiana Land Trust properties throughout the parish.  SBPG most likely cannot afford to purchase this neighborhood, compensate and relocate the residents, and maintain a green belt for the refinery.  SBPG does not have the authority to expropriate for the refinery.
Preserving the "R-1", residential zoning regardless of who owns the property or placing a conservation easement on the oil-company owned properties seems to be the only protection for this neighborhood.
[1] .  http://iesollc.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Murphy-Oil-ASSE-Paper.pdf

Absent from this account of EPA and DEQ efforts is the fact that no one, not anyone, reached St. Bernard Parish for five days; the first outside contact for St. Bernard Parish was on the fifth day and it was the Canadian Mounties. 

The first rescue crews into St. Bernard, five days after the storm, were the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. After two to four weeks, the water was gone as were neighbors, friends, and family, but people wanted to come back to the place they call home.

Also absent from the GRS account of the Murphy Oil spill is the total number of tanks that moved in Hurricane Katrina and how long it took before taken out of service, tank farm contamination issues before the storms and results of tank damage inspections and the number of required replacement tanks.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

June air quality St. Bernard Parish

The  Air Quality Report for June 2012  in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana according to the community's three air monitors:  :

30 days of hydrogen sulfide over EPA's recommended daily exposure level of 1.4 ppb hydrogen sulfide

12 days of sulfur dioxide at or above 12 ppb SO2 which LDEQ has said is the level which triggers headaches and other adverse quality of life

4 days of sulfur dioxide exceeding the one-hour health standard of 75 ppb SO2 with the three highest one-hour readings @ 164.4 ppb SO2, 117.6 ppb SO2, and 91.0 ppb SO2.

3 days of particulate matter PM2.5 above the national ambient air standard of 35 ug/m3

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