St. Bernard Highway reopens after oil spill, neighbors talk safety

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 12:19 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

MERAUX, La. -- A stretch of St. Bernard Highway is back open after an oil spill outside the Valero refinery shut down traffic for nearly six hours.
 
The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office confirmed several cars and two school buses were sprayed by oil.
 
Neighbors living nearby say they're concerned about their safety.
 
"Anything can happen, you know, but I wasn't expecting that," said Peggy Duplessis. The Meraux resident and her husband George live next door to the Valero refinery on St. Bernard Highway.
 
On Friday, hazmat crews worked into the night to clean up the oil spill.
 
The couple say they were driving their truck home, when droplets suddenly appeared on their windshield.
 
"As we were passing the plant I was thinking, Oh my goodness, it's raining!," said Peggy Duplessis. Specks of what appear to be oil now cover their green pick-up truck.
 
"The spill must have started then because a lot of brown stuff came all over my truck," said George Duplessis.
 
A Valero spokeswoman told Eyewitness News around 2:30 p.m. "a small amount of oil" was released from a crude oil unit. Louisiana State Police confirmed that a plug on a crude oil pipeline running across St. Bernard Highway failed, followed by the spill.
 
"It's not getting better, it's getting worse," said Patricia Albers, who lives nearby.  She says hazmat calls and highway closures aren't uncommon connected to the plant.
 
"They start with the fire engines, and the police and stopping people. It backs all the way up and we get it night time and daytime too," said Albers.
 
One Meraux family is happy no one was seriously hurt, but says it was a close call.
 
"I'm living right next door with kids, you don't know what it is," said George Duplessis.
 
A Valero spokeswoman says the Department of Environmental Quality was contacted after the spill. The plant says it's collecting the contact information of the drivers who reported getting oil on their vehicles.

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