The Gray Line Tour: Our air quality not to sniff at

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2002


A new air pollution report by the U.s. Public Interest Research Group singled out Louisiana as having 26 percent of its major industries exceeding federal guidelines. In 82 instances, the industries released at least five times more toxic chemicals than the Clean Air Act allows.

Among those mentioned in the report are Shell Chemical Co. in Norco and IMC in Taft. Both are involved in enforcement actions with the state Department of Environmental Quality or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Today, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is hosting local industry and local residents come together and discuss the problems and possible solutions in Louisiana style – with a festival.

Yes, a festival. With food, games, music and more, matched by information booths and dialogue between industry and residents.

The fair is going on at New Sarpy Park at Ninth and Terrance streets, starting at 9 a.m.

This is certainly a different approach and it beats picket lines and bullhorns, as when the same group picketed the hme of Orion Refining’s chief operating officer in Kenner.

Expected to attend at today’s fair are representatives from Motiva-Norco, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More are hoped for and will likely attend. A co-sponsor is the Massachusettes Institute of Technology, who will display and demonstrate various levels of air quality monitors, priced as low as $75.

The “buckets” will also be demonstrated, which is an actual bucket with a plastic bag inside and a vacuum pump attached.

The operator removes the air from the bag by pump, then opens it to admit surrounding air. Then the bag is sealed and sent to a lab for analysis.

It all sounds like an instructive, yet fun, time for the whole family.

LEONARD GRAY is assistant managing editor of L’Observateur.