“I was told by DEQ and State Police that the “shelter in place” order should have remained in effect for 34.5 hours. I will not tolerate reporting of inaccurate information by Olin during an emergency.” ~Parish President Mitch Ourso
The Iberville Parish President is livid after he said Olin “inaccurately” reported it was safe to lift a Chlorine leak in April 2022.
“Olin told us we could lift the shelter in place about three hours after the incident, so about 12:02am,” said Iberville Parish President Mitch Ourso. “Instead, I’ve learned now that the shelter in place should not have been lifted for 34.5 hours.”
On April 18, 2022, Olin released a statement saying “A chlorine release has occurred within Olin‘s facility in Plaquemine. Site emergency response was immediately engaged and we are working to stop the release. Employees at the facility took immediate safety precautions while the team began working to address the situation. A shelter in place has been implemented and local roads have been temporarily closed. We will provide additional information as soon as it is available.”
But nearly three months later, Ourso learned disturbing information and said he had to meet with DEQ and State Police personally to believe it.
“It really disappoints me. I’ve always supported the industry and never had any issues but this one was a bad, bad judgement on somebody’s case. When I was called up to DEQ and told the facts, I was really disappointed. The DEQ & State Police are entrusted with our safety. I want this fully investigated and if criminal charges need to come, then criminal charges need to come. You can’t give false readings to our people,” said Ourso.
It’s why the parish president mailed a letter to Iberville Parish residents on Monday, Aug. 8th, specifically in north Plaquemine and those effected by the Chlorine leak. In the letter, Ourso said he was informed “that the levels of Chlorine at the time Olin advised “that the “shelter in place” could be lifted were not accurately reported to the Parish and other emergency agencies on scene. In fact, the Chlorine levels in the monitoring area were higher than the level reported by Olin. I was told by DEQ and State Police that the “shelter in place” order should have remained in effect for 34.5 hours. I will not tolerate reporting of inaccurate information by Olin during an emergency.”
“I want the people to know that I did not hide anything, never would hide. Their safety and welfare comes first to me. As soon as I got word of this report, my priority was to let the residents know,” said Ourso.
Unfiltered with Kiran called and emailed Olin for a response to Parish President Ourso’s letter. As of this report, we have not received a response.
Louisiana DEQ did issue a statement:
“We do feel we were given incorrect information by the facilities on the concentration, amount & duration of this Chlorine leak but that’s all I can say for right now as the matter is under investigation,” said DEQ Press Secretary Greg Langley.
One specific resident who received the letter and lives near the Olin Plant said her husband had a bad migraine from it and had to miss work the next day to go to the doctor.
“Prior to the leak, we would smell strong Chlorine smells outside often. It happened most at night and I always wondered if there was a leak. ”Oddly” enough, we hadn’t smelled that since this occurred. This is so irresponsible and scary,” said the homeowner.