Environmental groups file suit against EPA emissions standards
Say emissions pose threat to St. Charles residents
St. Charles Parish is the second most industrialized parish in the state and is home to numerous flares the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB) says are poorly regulated.
Joining the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service, Air Alliance Houston and Community In-Power and Development Association Inc.,LABB filed a lawsuit through the Environmental Integrity Project against the EPA that accuses the federal agency of lack oversight in industrial containment of hazardous materials.
LABB and their partners in the lawsuit assert that every three years the EPA is required under the Clean Air Act to revise formulas, known as emissions factors, that plants use to estimate the amount of emissions they release. The lawsuit states such an assessment has not taken place for flares since 1991.
Citing recent studies done on emissions factors, Anna Hrybyk, program manager for LABB, said the group’s concern is that the release of potentially harmful chemicals are not being measured accurately.
"Industrial sites are allowed to use emissions factors that estimate the efficiency of flares, which they say are around 98 percent," she said. "When the refinery isn’t functioning optimally the refinery is only burning 50 to 60 percent of the emissions, which leads us to believe that refineries are grossly underestimating the amount of emissions burned by the flares."
Included in the emissions Hrybyk expects are being released without properly burning off in the flare is benzene, which is proven to cause cancer in cases of long-term exposure. She also believes other chemicals are being released that can cause diseases and have health affects on parish residents with respiratory ailments.
"This affects public health because it allows the refineries to expose people to emissions beyond what the law allows," she said.
What LABB and their counterparts are calling for, in addition to updated emissions factors, are stack testing, which would involve putting devices in the flares that would more accurately record the amount of emissions being burnt off and the amount being released.
"All of them are using emissions factors to calculate their emissions from the flare. If emissions factors were revised and updated they would have to increase their amounts pretty significantly," Hrybryk said. "One thing we advise is that they do stack testing to see what is coming out of the flare."
Hrybyk said a telltale sign of improperly released emissions has been noticed during flaring at the Shell/Motiva complex a few weeks ago, which is something she anticipates would be minimized if stack monitoring were in place.
"When they are not burning efficiently they tend to have a lot of black smoke and in that case they are releasing a lot of emissions," she said.
Both the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and Motiva declined to comment on the lawsuit given that neither are a party to it.
Subscribe Today and Save!!!
St. Charles Herald-Guide is an award-winning newspaper that covers all aspects of St. Charles Parish - from schools and parish government news to social events, features on our local residents and sports.
Order your subscription today!
The St. Charles Herald-Guide announces the hiring of reporters Anna Thibodeaux and...
Local union workers at Shell and Motiva refineries in Norco went on strike after...
Emily Charles, 21, had begun to drive herself and five longtime friends from a...
Most nonprofits would, in a perfect world, want to pay their volunteers. But for...
A Killona man faces felony animal cruelty charges after the St. Charles Parish...
When Hahnville wrestler Kendrick Jones won the LHSAA Division I state championship...
Spring is here and we are ready to offer St. Charles Parish complete landscape design installation & maintenance! Our full service garden center has a licensed Landscape Horticulturalist and knowledgeable staff to serve you.
Rabbits on late-season hunting menu - 765 views
With the conclusion of duck and deer season in Louisiana and Mississippi, and turkey season still several weeks away, rabbit season remains open and offers hunting opportunities until the end of February.