BRAITHWAITE, La. - The Louisiana State Police said Monday they're still several days away from letting residents return to an evacuation zone around a Plaquemines Parish transfer facility.
The Stolthaven hazardous material facility flooded in Braithwaite during Hurricane Isaac. Now efforts to clean up the aftermath have some residents unable to begin their clean up.
Two weeks after Isaac, Cheryl Tufaro is finally about to begin cleaning up.
“They kept us out of here for days,” Tufaro said.
Braithwaite Park is just up the road from the Stolthaven facility. It also flooded during Isaac.
“I don't know what its situation is, what its cause is, except railroad cars were turned over with chemicals in them,” Tufaro said.
State Police are handling the clean-up and say 140 rail cars were knocked off their foundations during the flood.
“Eighty of them contained some residue or hazardous material cars,” said Lt. Doug Cain, Public Information Officer for the Louisiana State Police.
So far, crews have put 40 of the 140 back on their tracks. “Some of the storage tanks within the facility were actually removed from their foundations with the flood waters,” Lt. Cain said.
We were only taken to the site for a few minutes Monday. State Police said two of the massive tanks have been off loaded and a third is underway now.
“I know people want to get back to their home. I know tensions are high, they lost everything. But we've gotta make sure that as they put these rail cars back in place, they keep the utmost safety of the public in mind,” said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
According to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, none of the rail cars is leaking. But during the storm, there was a chemical spill. What, and how much leaked, DEQ said they still don't know.
“We're trying to gather how much material was there, how much was not there after the storm,” said Peter Ricca, emergency response manager for DEQ.
“Whether they're poisonous or not, I'm not the one to answer. They just keep running us out of here. But if they're running us out of here, it's for a reason,” Tufaro said.
The evacuation area is a half mile north and south of the facility. State Police and DEQ said there has been no off-site impact since the initial flood, but they're monitoring it closely.
In an earlier release, the State Police said the chemicals that have been identified and are being offloaded so far are:
- Methyl Acrelate - Flammable
- Octene - Flammable
- Waste Container Storage
- Styrene - Flammable
- Formic Acid – Corrosive, Inhalation Hazard
- Monochlorobenzene - Flammable