"Marathon Refinery Fire Illustrates How Industry Goes Quiet During a Crisis"

"Recent industrial disaster at Louisiana’s Marathon refinery shows how difficult it is to get information during dangerous events."

"Thick black smoke billowed and flames rose from two chemical storage tanks at the Marathon Petroleum refinery between Reserve and Garyville, Louisiana, on Friday. Geraldine Watkins saw the towers of smoke through the passenger seat window of a car that morning, while she was on her way to a court hearing about whether another tract of land in St. John the Baptist Parish, where Garyville is located, would be zoned for heavy industrial use.

Despite the alarming view, no community-wide alarms had sounded when a naphtha leak started a fire at the refinery earlier that morning. While parish officials declared a mandatory evacuation for all residents within two miles of the refinery, including two nearby schools, DeSmog’s Julie Dermansky got inside the two-mile evacuation zone across the river from the plant without encountering a road block. Cars continued to pass by the facility and workers at the neighboring Cargill plant stood on the Mississippi River levee and recorded the scene live on Facebook for more than an hour.

Watkins, who lives about 5 miles from the refinery, thought about the safety of her grandchildren, who were already on their way to school in the parish. She thought about the health of the people who live in the trailer park near the fenceline of the Marathon Petroleum refinery, and about how the smoke could trigger her own asthma."

Sara Sneath and Julie Dermansky report for DeSmog Aug 30, 2023.

Source: DeSmog, 09/06/2023