Toxic residue triggers DEQ investigationOct 28th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: News
An environmental assessment is being conducted on the substance found in South Lake canal after resident complaints spurred an investigation.
For the past several weeks, residents have been complaining of a foul odor coming from the water. As the odor got progressively worse, Councilman Fred Everhardt, District E, began advocating for intervention by the Department of Environmental Quality.
Parish President Craig Taffaro reported on the preliminary results as that investigation moves forward.
“DEQ, in conjunction with our Water and Sewer Quality Control Manager Jake Groby has sampled the sludge located in the South Lake canal,” Taffaro said. “USES (United States Environmental Services) responded to the removal and the fire department assisted in flushing activity. We are awaiting the sampling results and tests are being performed to determine the presence of Blue Green Algea, fecal coliform, phosphorus and as well as any other organic matter.”
Councilman Everhardt said he has personally contacted DEQ Sec. Peggy Hatch about studying the sludge and locating the source. The results of the investigation are pending but will be released in the immediate future.
This investigation comes on the heels of another chemical-based incident, when the Chalmette Refining station began releasing excess gases due to a failure of their oxygen delivery system. Flaring resulted in order to burn the excessive volume of hydrocarbons venting.
Taffaro has assured residents that the monitoring station for the Parish detected no abnormal volume of the gases, thanks mostly due to a fortunate wind that blew the chemicals out toward the River instead of into the Parish. But that delay in Chalmette Refining’ reporting the incident to local government and first responders warrants further inquiry.
“St. Bernard Parish is continuing its own inquiry as to the potential risk, should the wind direction have been from the south instead of the north during the release and address any additional needs for intervention, notification, and redundant prevention and monitoring activities,” Taffaro said.
DEQ has also been contacted on this matter, Taffaro said, to include the agency in the information gathering and possible plans and contingencies should a similar situation ever occur.