In A Flash

Gen. Honoré plans to demand oil companies pay for neglecting infrastructure in Louisiana

By: - October 1, 2021 5:15 pm
Gen. Honoré to demand oil companies pay for neglected infrastructure

In this 2005 photo, Gen. Russel Honoré directs recovery efforts in Lake Charles after Hurricane Rita. On Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, Honoré announced he plans to attend Lafayette’s Petroleum Club meeting next week to demand oil companies pay for the spills and other pollution that resulted after Hurricane Ida. (Public domain photo by Tom R. Malmay Jr., USAF)

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré plans to go to the Petroleum Club of Lafayette next week to demand that oil corporations — not taxpayers — pay the half-billion dollar bill that could result from having to clean up the thousands of oil spills and other incidents of pollution in Louisiana exposed by Hurricane Ida, according to a Friday press release.   

Honoré, an emergency preparedness expert known for leading the recovery of Hurricane Katrina and the U.S. Capitol security review in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, will go to the Petroleum Club at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5, and hold a news conference on the side of the building located at 1030 E. Saint Mary Blvd., Lafayette.

According to his press release, the general will demand the industry foot the bill that could cost up to $650 million to properly plug all 4,600 abandoned wells across the state of Louisiana. The news release said the thousands of pollution incidents since Ida’s landfall have exposed vulnerable and abandoned industrial infrastructure across the state.

Industrial and petrochemical pollution incidents in Louisiana have drawn heightened scrutiny after Associated Press journalists, combing through weather satellite images, spotted oil slicks near a Gulf of Mexico rig in the days following Hurricane Ida’s Aug. 29 landfall. That oil spill, which left an 11-mile long slick, came from an abandoned pipeline that authorities have yet to trace to a company responsible. 

Since then, the U.S. Coast Guard has received more than 2,100 reports of spills and other contamination incidents, according to a Washington Post article.

Among those reports, the Phillips 66 Alliance refinery, located along the Mississippi River in Belle Chasse, spilled an unreported amount of oil that killed several deer and cows and covered otters, hogs and at least 100 birds, according to NOLA.com

Louisiana’s industries also affected the air after the storm. Oil refineries, such as Shell Norco, released chemical emissions at a high rate in the days before and after Ida’s landfall, forming a long black cloud that stretched from Norco to near the middle of Lake Pontchartrain north of Metairie where it began to dissipate.

Clarification: Gen. Honoré will not actually be inside the Petroleum Club building. Rather he will hold a press conference outside of where the club meets.

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Wes Muller
Wes Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Much of his journalism has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and coverage of municipal and state government. He has received recognitions including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus and a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his two sons and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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