Residents upset for lack of communication over refinery discharge


HMN-Residents in Pascagoula are upset for not being notified of a routine release of Nitrogen Oxide from a nearby refinery.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that around 1,000 pounds of the substance was released.

Locals are questioning why they didn’t receive any notifications regarding an equipment failure at the Chevron Refinery. News 25’s Jaylon Morris went to the refinery in Pascagoula for answers.

Barbara Weckesser lives close to the Chevron Refinery in Pascagoula. She was upset she was not notified about the one thousand pounds of nitrogen oxide released from the plant Wednesday morning. “How many more releases, how many more cancer deaths, how many more no notifications?”

Public and Government Affairs Manager Alan Sudduth tells News 25 this incident occurred due to a normal routine processing start up units at the refinery. According to the incident report, nitrogen oxide was released to the flare stack due to a start up. “When you have routine or scheduled maintenance with the equipment sometimes you have to bring that equipment down. As part of either bringing the unit down or starting a unit back up that’s when you have these incidents,” said Sudduth.

Weckesser noted that this isn’t the first time this has happened, similar situations have occurred in this area. “You have a benzene leak on February 7th. No notification.”

Sudduth tells News 25 Chevron notified the National Response Center and they follow its regulations on what the threshold is for reporting. “The National Response Center is set up so they can be notified and in a timely manner so they can help those who need to be notified on a federal, state, and local level.”

Weckesser says she doesn’t want to go against the industry at all. She only has one question. “Why no notification? Nothing. We have to hear it from second hand on what’s going on.”

Sudduth tells News 25 the Chevron Pascagoula Refinery followed their safety precautions as far as making necessary notifications. “State and local authorities were made aware of the incident. Base on the incident, based on the information they had, they made the determinations about what notifications they would make. With no threat to the community, I think that was the basis for their determinations.”

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