Report raises questions about potential chemical releases at Braithwaite facility

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wwltv.com

Posted on September 13, 2012 at 12:28 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 14 at 12:41 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

BRAITHWAITE, La. -- In the days since Hurricane Isaac, the Stolthaven facility -- and the chemicals stored there -- have kept some Plaquemines East Bank residents from fully returning home.

The concerns involve whether or not Hurricane Isaac, compromised the facility leading to a chemical release.

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and other environmental groups, flew over the facility Monday and took photographs that you can see above.

"We saw very many compromised tanks in the tank farm, as well as compromised rail cars," said Anna Hrybyk of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

Several days after that flyover came a report to the National Response Center, the agency where companies self-report any oil, chemical or hazardous material spills. According to the report, 190,000 gallons of at least a half-dozen different chemicals were reported as "released materials" at the Stolthaven facility, among them Benzene and Styrene.

"These chemicals are known cancer-causing chemicals," Hrybyk said.

However, a spokesperson for the facility itself, Steve Turchi, said the report indicates "potential releases" and was not an indication of what actually leaked. When asked why the chemicals were listed as released, he said it was a misunderstanding as it was reported over the phone.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality backed up the company and said the chemicals listed in the NRC report were "potential releases ... that could not be accurately measured."

Attorney Dominick Impastato represents East Bank residents of Plaquemines, who filed a class action lawsuit against the facility.

"Our concerns remain the same," Impastato said. "These property owners want to know how much of these chemicals got beyond the Stolthaven facility onto their properties."

Louisiana State Police want to know that as well. Their spokesperson, Capt. Doug Cain, tells Eyewitness News that Stolthaven called the State Hazmat Hotline on Tuesday night reporting the same thing they did to the National Response Center.

What state police want to know, though, is why it took the company two weeks to let them know what chemicals could have been potentially released, especially since their officers have been there for the past 10 days.

 --- Some images in this story courtesy: Gulf Restoration Network & Louisiana Bucket Brigade

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