Port Allen residents concerned about Apex plant leaks

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POSTED: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 6:24pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 9:26pm

David Leblanc has lived in Port Allen his entire life. He described the pungent smell of ammonia that came from a leaking tank at Apex Oil Company back in July. Apex is located just across the street from where David and his wife live.

"It literally would choke you. You couldn't breathe," stated Leblanc. "It was just a mess the day of the incident. Luckily, they did get here and they did shut it down, but if we wouldn't have called, I don't know what would have happened."

The Department of Environmental Quality is out at the Apex plant to make sure that something like that doesn't happen again; the DEQ will return for a similar process later in the week.

"They now have a cap on top of the vent and that cap - anything that's vented from that particular tank will go through an additional scrubber unit that can capture any ammonia, hydrogen sulfide or extra volatile organics that may be emitted," said Peter Ricca with the DEQ.

Despite this, David wonders how long it will be before a similar incident or maybe something even worse happens at the plant.

"What if there's something they can't control? What if there are elderly people who need to get out can't get out of their house quickly (or) there's a situation where it's beyond their control? There's a fire; there's toxins; I mean you have 5,000 people living next to these tanks."

NBC33 News was able to contact a representative from Apex. He says the company is concerned about the opinions and safety of citizens like David in Port Allen. He says Apex is taking all necessary safety precautions to make sure those who live near the plant are safe.

Unless more is done, David doesn't know how much longer he can live in Port Allen, a place he’s lived his entire life.

"It's not safe right now. I would need to see some changes before I really decide if this is a place I can live until I get old."

A place he's lived his entire life.

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