Man says flooding at Plaquemines chemical plant made him sick

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 7:12 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 24 at 7:21 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

VIOLET, La. -- There are new allegations tonight in the story we've been reporting, about those tank cars that derailed and that chemical plant that flooded in Plaquemines Parish during Hurricane Isaac.

Now a man from Violet who works on site is claiming that he and a few others were sickened by the facility.

Laterrel Hill said he's been very sick since the last week on his job as a security guard at the Stolthaven Chemical Facility on the Mississippi River near Braithwaite.

"I've got streaking chest pains all over, especially by my heart, keep getting chest pains. Hard to breathing sometimes. Short of breath," said Laterrel Hill, 34, a security guard at Response Force 1 Security Solutions.

He said he has worked for that company on and off for the last year and a half and that the health problems started 30 minutes after he was on the job Sept. 20.

Along with vomiting, he said his arms and legs are weak, and his eyes were sensitive to light after he smelled an odor, but he was told by a supervisor there was no need for his respirator. He keeps his dark glasses on in his home.

"I don't want one morning to call down here and find out my brother didn't wake up, you see what I'm saying? Because, these are the things that are bothering me," said Hill's sister Lynette Harvey, who said her brother was healthy when he went to work.

Hill said the ailments have nothing to do with his cigarette smoking because a pack can last him weeks.

He was released after two days in the hospital.

No leak was reported to Louisiana State Police last week, but a spokeswoman confirms they got a report of medical complaints of contract workers. Hill works for Response Force 1 Security Solutions, which is contracted by Stolthaven.

A DEQ spokesman says air and water quality testing is ongoing but so far there are no "real abnormalities."

Stolthaven said when it got reports of three people with ailments, it immediately began air monitoring.

"We have no detects of any kind, on any levels, that there were releases of any kind," said Steve Turchi, the Stolthaven Terminals Regional Director for North America.

"These employees were working. They were located in a non-operating area. We had other individuals working in the same area, at the same time, who complained of no concerns whatsoever."

Hill said he was working at "Gate 6" at the "end of the plant."

"I just really want to know why they ain't telling these people, or the doctors, so we could treat what we was exposed to you know, because I could be sitting here with something eating my insides out," said Hill in a weak voice.

Stolthaven said flood and soil samples are still being tested and so far no levels are higher than protective guidelines.

The company asks anyone with health concerns to report them to its hotline: 1-866-890-8576

For updated DEQ information on Stolthaven, click here.

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