Occupational Health & Safety

High Accident Rate for Louisiana's Refineries Reported

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade and the United Steelworkers released the report on 2011 accidents at the 17 refineries last week.

A new report says Louisiana's 17 refineries reported 301 accidents to the state of Louisiana during 2011. The data come from self reports that have been criticized for underestimating actual releases; even so, they show more than 1 million pounds of toxicants into the air and some 1.3 million gallons into the state's water and soil.

"This report offers a window into what is really going on at Louisiana's refineries. They help our union make the case for how unsafe this industry can be. Instead of ignoring the results of this report or doubting the accuracy of the public records on which the data is based, refiners should work with our union and the community to make these plants safer," said Gary Beevers, International Vice President of the United Steelworkers. "No one wants these refineries to shut down, but refiners can do more to ensure the safety and health of their workers and the community. ExxonMobil definitely has the financial resources to do a better job."

The report, titled "Common Ground: the Call for Cooperation to Reduce Accidents at Refineries in Louisiana," was released by the union and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental health and justice organization supporting neighborhoods' use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable communities free of industrial pollution. They say the report's goal is to solve the ongoing problem of refinery accidents. "Every year, we repeat our call to refinery management to sit down with us and with the workers to get to the bottom of the industry's accident problem," said Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. "Refinery managers continue to act as if they don't have an accident problem. Until they face the facts, the oil industry, our economy, our environment, and our health will suffer."

The report (available at http://www.labucketbrigade.org/article.php?id=1373) indicates total pollution increased from the previous year.

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