| April 4
April 4 A "rank" odor that has spread across
parts of greater New Orleans may be linked to a leak from the
192,500-barrel-per-day Chalmette refinery, the U.S. Coast Guard
investigating the smell said on Thursday.
Chalmette, a joint venture between Exxon Mobil Corp
and Venezuela's national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA
(PDVSA), reported a leak early Wednesday morning but it had been
quickly contained at the plant, the Coast Guard said.
"Chalmette Refinery has worked with (the Louisiana
Department of Environmental Quality) and Coast Guard response
teams most of the day to survey and evaluate all potential
sources of odors in the area," the Coast Guard said.
"The facility reported and quickly stopped a leak
early Wednesday morning and, while the investigation is still
ongoing, officials currently believe it could be the source of
the odor," it said in a statement.
Exxon Mobil did not immediately respond to questions.
Lieutenant Lily Zeteza of the Coast Guard's district eight
public affairs office said the leaked substance was sour water
-- waste water coming from the refining process which usually
contains hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.
"We haven't told the refinery to shut down because we
haven't any cause for a shutdown," Zeteza said. "We've no
indication that this is dangerous."
Residents in the suburban Jefferson and St Bernard parishes
variously reported smells of burnt rubber, cockroach spray or
rancid, rank and pungent odors, according to the iWitness
Pollution Map web site, a Louisiana-based organization. Some
residents said the odor was so strong it woke them up.
Others complained of headaches and scratchy throats.
"It's just a smell that you know is not typical New
Orleans," Zeteza said.