From Our Readers

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 14, 2004

Press Release


Our families live in the shadow of Marathon refinery. For years, we fought a fence-line battle for clean air, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of a loud explosion and looking out of our windows, only to see balls of fire and smoke. Luckily, we are very close-knit neighbors, waking people and telling them to evacuate. Neither Marathon nor the Parish informed us to evacuate our properties because the problem was, so-called, handled. But what they didn’t know is that the west side of Marathon was full of smoke and soot.

On another recent occasion, we awakened to find coke dust over our homes, playgrounds and automobiles. No one came to look around the refinery boundaries. We had to contact the refinery to let them know about their release.

We realize that there is no such thing as a refinery being a good neighbor, especially when your home borders their property line. No matter how hard they try. Our community decided to stand together to make a fair deal that enables us to move to a cleaner neighborhood where our children won’t breathe bad air.

The Bucket Brigade says Marathon hushes us, shames us and gives us nothing. Joel Waltzer, our attorney, has conducted a difficult negotiation, which while at times was very contentious, was never shameful.

The Norco buyout was a result of a 13-year, ugly battle. We approached Marathon with exactly the opposite tack. You respect us, we don’t shame you, you act reasonably, we will, too.

It is unfair for the Bucket Brigade to characterize Marathon as having shamed the community in this process. Certainly, no one has told us not to say anything. We chose to lay low, to allow our approach some time. We chose not to go to the press.

Also, for the Bucket Brigade to say that we gained nothing is really not right. We convinced Marathon to appraise the properties as if they were not located next to an industrial facility, and to ignore the condition of our homes. We selected the appraisers of our choice, not Marathon’s. On top of all that, we are offered bonuses that go up to 40 percent of this appraised price. We should all be able to move to better and bigger homes.

This is not to say that the move is without problems, and no amount of money can replace the bonds we have with each other, that will surely suffer by the move. We have lived here for generations and truly resent having to move.

For the sake of our kids and grandkids, we have to do what we have to do. We want clean air and clean water, which St. John Parish is not providing and, by sticking together, community and church, that’s what we’ll do.

Nanette Kunkel

Stephanie Cambre

Melanie Stein