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July2005 Spill

Another  ExxonMobil Spill

Before the “Pray for Our Air campaign could finish the final draft of our  neighborhood emergency preparedness survey, ExxonMobil had another spill requiring a shelter in place.


Our station to turn to for emergency information is WJBO.  Last time there was a spill the discussion was deep into the Michael Jackson verdict and I never heard a word about the spill.  This time by the time I remembered to tune to 1150am the Ed Buggs show was in full flight on a compelling subject of EBRP student athletics and grade point averages. 


I live in a frame house with many, many air leaks around the doors and windows so as usual although it is not advised, I grabbbbbbed my purse to head for the hills.  Along the way I saw two of my neighbors with their doors opened.  Each was playing music and did not hear the alarm.  I informed them of the spill and headed on hoping that everyone else had cable and was better informed than I was. 


I heard the muted sound of the alarm.  I knew it was Monday so it could not be a test however although improved the voice was not understandable without me opening the door.  I held my breath opened my front door and heard the familiar shelter in place alert. I called my daughter to let her know there was a problem at the plant.  I turned on the television.  Once again Channel 9 gave the best information mentioning flares and a sulphur leak, shelter in place and after a few minutes said the CAL alert system was in place and would be making calls in a one half mile area of the plant. 


As I head to the car,   radio is the best link to news that I can hope for,  as I beeline  to the suburbs. I realize that I have only a bit of change in my purse, no cash, no cell phone and no updated information.  I debate with myself on if I should use 50 cents of my meager resources to call WJBO and let Buggs know he is my only link to vital information and beg for an update although I am not in their demographics.  I pulled into an ExxonMobil Station and asked the clerk if she had any news of the spill.  She is unaware and is concerned that they do not have any instruction or any way to get news if something major happens


I go back to the car and the discussion continues about the student athletes on WJBO.   I  notice a friendly UPS man in his un-air conditioned truck.  At the light I roll down my window and inform him of the spill,  warning him not to go down Scenic Highway with his windows and door opened.  He gave me a big thank you and we  part.


  I focused back on myself figuring I  needed to decide where to go and what to do.  I headed for the public  library, I’m unsure why.  On the way I am ticked off as I think about all the money ExxonMobil spent on its last community newsletter without one word about the last spill.  Finally just as I pull into the library parking lot WJBO announced the news coming up at the top of the 10 o’clock hour.  I held my breath as they talked about international news from the Fox network, followed by news from Gonzales about the Bass Pro Store, then news from Prairieville.  There is an advertising tag about the station we ”depend on” when Buggs himself announces before the weather that the shelter in place was lifted 20 minutes ago.  The weather lady tells the temperature and sympathetically remarks that it would be tough to be with out air.  Buggs remarks that it’s better that the shelter in place was early in the morning.  By this time  I am at my wits end at  how we do things  here in Baton Rouge.   Is it just me, or are we just a little too casual about leaks, spills and a well known plan of action?

A first person account by Stephanie Anthony


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