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Sugar cane burn tripped power line, may have contributed to Dow leak Friday

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PLAQUEMINE- Parish leaders in Iberville are fuming tonight over a lack of communication during the chlorine leak from the Dow property on Friday.

Parish leaders said they were never notified from Dow which is against protocols. Instead, the parish had to call Dow to try and get some information about what was going on.

Parish 911 calls back up that story. Around 3pm on Friday, parish workers contacted Dow after residents began complaining about not being able to breathe or swallow. It wasn't another 40 minutes later that Dow leaders called asking for the Sheriff's Department to close LA 1. By that time, the parish had made the decision to order a shelter in place, since they weren't getting information.

"Our main responsibility is letting the public know what's going on and how to remain safe at all times," Iberville Parish EOC Director Laurie Doiron said. "We were not able to do that not having the information given from the Dow Chemical Company."

There is a network of sirens in the area. Those did not sound because parish leaders didn't know what was happening initially. That won't happen again.

"If we have to sound the sirens and err on the side of caution everytime, if we're not getting the information, we will do it," Doiron said.

Parish leaders said the protocols have been in place for years for them to be notified first. The parish is responsible for the sirens, and keeping the community abreast of any potential threats.

"I've been here since 1989 and that has always been in place," Doiron said.

A meeting is scheduled at Dow on Wednesday to go over the problems that were experienced on Friday. Iberville Parish leaders want to make sure it never happens again.

In a statement today a spokeswoman for Dow said, "Dow made all appropriate reports with regulatory agencies and had immediate assistance from local authorities."

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