BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Data the 9News Investigators have found available on a Watchdog group website out of Washington, D.C. reveals ExxonMobil Refinery in Baton Rouge has faced nearly a dozen violations at the facility in the last two decades.
Most of them are for environmental concerns, but at least two documented cases were for workplace safety issues, with the most recent violation in 2017.
The images overnight were unbelievable as fire lit up the night sky at the refinery. The massive flames and thick blanket of smoke set off panic across the Capital City. The frightening images were only outdone by the sounds those who live nearby say they heard.
“Boom. Boom. It was crazy,” said Joseph Carroll.
The fire broke out right around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night (Feb. 11) as volunteer fire crews on-site got to work immediately to try to bring the blaze under control. The good news is despite how scary the intense flames looked, nobody was hurt and there was no immediate off-site impact.
“We’ve been working in conjunction with the Baton Rouge HAZMAT team to conduct air quality monitoring to ensure our workforce, our employees are safe as well as the community and those results have all been below detectable limits,” said Megan Manchester, a spokeswoman with ExxonMobil Baton Rouge.
Crews have spent much of the day working to ensure the air folks are breathing has not been affected. While WAFB is told those tests are safe, what remains unknown is exactly what caused the fire or what specifically was burned.
“We’re going to learn from this incident and once deemed safe, we’re going to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the root cause,” said Manchester.
The 9News Investigators have found almost a dozen violations over the last 20 years where the facility has allegedly fallen short of federal guidelines. D.C. based resource group, Good Jobs First, tracks businesses and agencies across the country. According to their data, which is compiled from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), WAFB found 11 violations at the Baton Rouge refinery since 2001. Based on the list, the company has been slapped with $2,678,777 worth of penalties. WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked a company spokesperson for an on-camera interview about the findings. A spokesman released the following statement.
“ExxonMobil compiles and reports data from our area site monitors to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We also collaborate extensively with regulatory agencies to ensure compliance with local and state standards. Request for public records can be found on official websites with the EPA and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), a verified repository of all official environmental reporting data including reports from past incidents. ExxonMobil Baton Rouge has invested over $10 million in voluntary proactive environmental improvements over the last ten years, and the results are evident in our performance. Emissions in Louisiana have fallen by as much as 66 percent since 1990, even as the state’s energy demand has increased and its gross domestic product grew 150 percent, a Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) analysis shows.”
If you would like to take a look at the data for yourself, you can find it here.