Residents call for change following ExxonMobil fire
BATON ROUGE - Just a mile from the ExxonMobil plant on Scenic Highway, residents packed pews Wednesday night demanding answers eight days after a fire at the facility.
Representatives from ExxonMobil, DEQ, and other agencies were on hand as State Senator Cleo Fields led the conversation about how to improve the response to a situation like the most recent blaze.
"The bottom line is, people just want to be informed," Fields said. "There's no reason for us not to be able to let them know through text, let them know through a phone call or whatever. When there's a fire, people should know about it.
Fields' goal is to create an action plan to turn into bills for the upcoming legislative session. The senator's main concerns are in line with what residents want to see: an improved notification system, and the protocol for testing the air for chemicals released during a fire.
"It is a chemical plant," Freeman said. "Anything that you release is a threat to us, even if they feel like 'oh it's only these many pounds or these many milliliters,' like it doesn't matter to the people outside of the plant."
"We can see that they have a problem across the fence, and we're there with no information, resident Robert Joseph said. "We need information. Information is power."
At the meeting, ExxonMobil residents apologized to residents before laying out an exact timeline of the events last Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Sen. Fields says if he has his way things will change.
"Right now, we rely on the industry to tell us what they release if it's on the inside of the plant, Fields said. "It's unconscionable."
In addition to updating the notification system and air quality testing, Fields says he wants to shorten the seven-day report window down to three to get residents' information quicker. Any bills he chooses to pre-file must be filed by next Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.