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What is the Refinery Accident Database?

The Refinery Accident Database compiles refineries' own accident reports submitted to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and presents them in an accessible, public and comprehensive manner. While this data is available from the state via their Electronic Data Management System (EDMS), the state's system provides no comprehensive view of refineries' reports. Their limited system only shows one report at a time!

The database contains summarized information from the LDEQ incident reports of 17 Louisiana refineries and a growing number of chemical plants from 2005-2013. This information is also released in LABB's annual Common Ground Report.

This database is a part of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade's Refinery Efficiency Initiative to protect health by preventing accidents at Louisiana oil refineries. Transparency and accountability for accidents is an important first step for reducing them.

What information is available in the database?

By utilizing the search feature, anyone can search for accident information by date, refinery, chemical, cause, zip code or incident number. You can also click on the refinery names to get more information, including a year-by-year summary of the incidents, specific pollutants released and a PDF copy of the original accident report.

Citizen complaints submitted to LDEQ are also accessible on the database by clicking on an individual refinery. These complaints are reported by community members who witness refinery accidents first-hand. The reports may include information about odors, health effects or if LDEQ was able to connect any accident reports filed by the refinery to the complaint during an investigation.

How does the LABB get the accident reports?

These refinery reports are, by law, publicly available. We obtain the reports from from LDEQ through public records requests. The reports are also available on the LDEQ Electronic Document Management System: http://edms.deq.louisiana.gov/app

What can I do if I witness a refinery accident in progress?

First, let others know by making a report on LABB's Crisis Map online at map.labucketbrigade.org or via text at (504) 272-7645 or 27 27 OIL. Then, file a complaint with LDEQ by calling 1-888-763-5424. While the agency is unlikely to take any meaningful action, it is nonetheless important to create a record of your concern.

I see BRQ listed frequently. What does BRQ mean?

BRQ stands for "below reportable quantities". Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, refineries are required to notify LDEQ of any releases of hazardous materials. There is a reporting threshold set for each chemical regulated by the EPA, called a "reportable quantity." For example, the reportable quantity for sulfur dioxide is 500 pounds, but for benzene it is 10 pounds. A report is required within seven days if an accident exceeds the reportable quantities. Sometimes, refineries submit reports even if it is below reportable quantities. LABB includes all accidents reported to the LDEQ regardless of whether or not the threshold was exceeded. We believe that BRQ reports provide important information about problems at refineries.

What are criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases?

The term "criteria pollutants" refers to six common air pollutants regulated by the EPA based on human health effects. Criteria pollutants include ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead. These pollutants can harm human health, the environment and cause property damage. More information can be found on this EPA page.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and allow sunlight to enter more freely. According to the U.S EIA's 2009 Annual Energy Outlook report, the refining industry produces more in than 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. More information can be found on the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions page.

Where can I find out more information on refinery pollution?

Special thanks to the Environmental Working Group for hosting this database and providing technical support.