142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Tracking Refinery Accidents and Crowd-sourcing Off-Site Impacts to Improve Health and Wellbeing in Louisiana

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 3:10 PM - 3:30 PM

Andy Zellinger , Louisiana Bucket Brigade, New Orleans, LA
Anna Hrybyk, MPH , Louisiana Bucket Brigade, New Orleans, LA
Katie Moore , Louisiana Bucket Brigade, New Orleans, LA
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB) is an environmental health and justice organization working with communities affected by petrochemical pollution. The purpose of the study of Louisiana refinery accidents is to publicly disclose previously inaccessible data with the aim of preventing accidents and improve health and well-being of Louisianans.  LABB triangulates this research with innovative methods in crowdsourcing that empower residents to use their telephones and computers to document how refinery accidents affect them.  LABB’s Research Team correlates community health impacts with industry self reports to the state and available air monitoring information in order to provide  federal and state enforcement officials with opportunities to pursue meaningful penalties against repeat offenders. LABB research methods are an EPA approved analysis of all “unauthorized discharge” reports submitted to state regulators from Louisiana’s 17 refineries and two associated chemical plants. LABB’s Louisiana Refinery Accident Database organizes refineries’ own reports to the LDEQ in a comprehensive, and accessible way.

According to Louisiana refineries’ own reports to the state, these facilities averaged six accidents per week in 2012. Louisiana refineries reported a total of 327 accidents in 2012. After a year in which refinery accidents released over 2,347,688 pounds of air pollution and 12,745,442 gallons of water pollution, cooperation to solve refinery accidents is needed more than ever. Although the total number of refinery accidents has decreased from 346 in 2011 to 327 in 2012, the total amount of air pollution has increased by 15% from 1.9 million pounds in 2011 to 2.3 million pounds in 2012.

Most accident reports submitted to state regulators by Louisiana refineries claims these have no offsite impact beyond their fences. Through LABB’s iWitness Pollution Map, impacted residents provide proof countering industry claims by submitting reports.  Residents providing real time accounts are crucial in improving enforcement of federal and state laws.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Analyze and compare data on the Refinery Accident Database by date, point source, causal factor, or chemical spilled. Identify how everyday citizens can document pollution and chemical exposure using innovative civic technologies. Evaluate how the health and well being of communities near refinery fencelines are affected by the place they live.

Keyword(s): Reporting, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently the Research Analyst with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB), a New Orleans-based environmental health and justice organization. I work with communities near oil refineries and chemical plants in the state to document off-site impacts of industrial pollution and increase access to information about refinery accidents. The Bucket Brigade maintains the iWitness Pollution Map, a crowd-sourced mapping tool which allows community members to document the impacts of refinery accidents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.