Sat Jun 23, 2012, 12:11 AM
KeepItReal (5,321 posts)
Benzene spill at ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge far bigger than first reported
Source: NOLA.com - AP
ExxonMobil says the benzene release June 14 at its chemical plant in Baton Rouge was far bigger than the 10 pounds reported then, and could be as much as 28,700 pounds.
That estimate is in a required report to the state Department of Environmental Quality about the spill of naphtha, which contains benzene.
The Advocate reports that DEQ began an investigation Thursday, one day after getting the report. Assistant Secretary Cheryl Nolan says part of the investigation is finding out when ExxonMobil Chemical Plant officials learned how much bigger the spill actually was.
Read more: http://www.nola.com/traffic/index.ssf/2012/06/benzene_spill_at_exxonmobile_i.html
17 replies, 3326 views
Benzene spill at ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge far bigger than first reported (Original post)
Response to TexasTowelie (Reply #1)
Sat Jun 23, 2012, 07:57 PM
wordpix (12,478 posts)
16. Health Effects: cancer, leukemia, targets reproductive system and organs including brain
Benzene increases the risk of cancer and other illnesses. Benzene is a notorious cause of bone marrow failure. Substantial quantities of epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory data link benzene to aplastic anemia, acute leukemia, and bone marrow abnormalities. The specific hematologic malignancies that benzene is associated with include: acute myeloid leukemia (AML), aplastic anemia, myleodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
The American Petroleum Institute (API) stated in 1948 that "it is generally considered that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero." The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) classifies benzene as a human carcinogen. Long-term exposure to excessive levels of benzene in the air causes leukemia, a potentially fatal cancer of the blood-forming organs, in susceptible individuals. In particular, Acute myeloid leukemia or acute non-lymphocytic leukaemia (AML & ANLL) is not disputed to be caused by benzene. IARC rated benzene as "known to be carcinogenic to humans" (Group 1).
Human exposure to benzene is a global health problem. Benzene targets liver, kidney, lung, heart and the brain and can cause DNA strand breaks, chromosomal damage, etc. Benzene causes cancer in both animals and humans. Benzene has been shown to cause cancer in both sexes of multiple species of laboratory animals exposed via various routes.
Some women having breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. Benzene exposure has been linked directly to the neural birth defects spina bifida and anencephaly. Men exposed to high levels of benzene are more likely to have an abnormal amount of chromosomes in their sperm, which impacts fertility and fetal development.
Response to wordpix (Reply #16)
Sat Jun 23, 2012, 08:53 PM
TexasTowelie (3,332 posts)
My minor in college was chemistry and I spent plenty of time in the lab so I'm very aware of the heath effects of benzene. However, I also know that some people aren't as aware so it is good to get the information out there.
Response to obxhead (Reply #10)
Sat Jun 23, 2012, 11:01 AM
wordpix (12,478 posts)
14. "Inspection division administrator says initial estimates of releases are usually inaccurate"
Yes they are and the initial estimates are usually far less than the actual releases, too.
Response to KeepItReal (Original post)
Sat Jun 23, 2012, 03:12 AM
jmowreader (23,926 posts)
8. Ten pounds is the reportable quantity
Every hazardous material has a "reportable quantity"--if you release at least that much of the product (10 pounds, in the case of benzene), you've got to call it in to the Coast Guard's National Response Center, who is the point of contact for all hazmat releases. And until you know how much you actually released, you just tell them you released "at least (the RQ)." Then you re-notify them after you have a good number. It SOUNDS sinister--going from "we released a gallon and a half of this shit" to "we released 2500 gallons of it" sounds really fucking awful--but that's how the Coast Guard wants it done.
Response to jmowreader (Reply #8)
Sat Jun 23, 2012, 07:25 AM
fasttense (14,436 posts)
11. That sounds all so reasonable on the surface but it's spinning the truth
The minimum reporting requirement does NOT prevent the agency from reporting the most accurate estimate as possible at the time so the Coast Guard knows the level of response necessary. As an XO in the Navy we had to report hazmat spills and we always went with the most accurate estimate NOT the minimum requirement. Later we would go back and update the estimated amount to be more accurate. But we always reported our best estimate at the time, not the minimum. There is a big difference between 10lbs and 28,700 pounds. If ExxonMobile could not get a better estimate than 10 lbs then they should NOT be in the business of handling hazardous materials.
There is a big temptation to underplay a spill and report the minimum but I found that reporting as accurate an estimate as possible sped recovery and containment. Though what ExxonMobile did was not illegal, it was unethical and probably delayed containment and recovery.
ExxonMobile was trying to hide the spill that is why they initially reported the minimum amount.