Sasol's flare still burning bright; residents complain of rumbli - FOX29 Lake Charles

Sasol's flare still burning bright; residents complain of rumblings, odors, burning eyes

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(Source: KPLC) (Source: KPLC)
CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Heavy flaring from Sasol's ethylene unit Thursday night sparked concern for residents in Westlake.

But for some, the after-effects continue even on Friday - some 24 hours later.

And while the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Westlake Fire Department said they didn't hear of or respond to any reports of medical-related incidents in connection to the flaring, questions linger.

"The way this flare's going right now, this doesn't seem normal," said John Herbert Peshoff, who has lived for more than 30 years on Elizabeth Street in Westlake.

In that time, he's seen his fair share of flares from nearby plants, but nothing quite like this.

"The whole area in here was lit up last night somewhere around 12 o'clock and I run out here to look and see what was going on and my eyes started burning; my mouth started burning; I still feel it around my eyes - had to run inside my house," said Peshoff.

And he's not the only one. Other residents on the street complained of similar experiences - from the loud rumblings, to strong odors - even those burning sensations.

They say flaring for this length of time is unusual. But Sasol says otherwise.

In a statement issued Friday, the company said, "Sasol's Lake Charles Chemical Complex experienced an event in our ethylene unit resulting in the use of our flaring system. There were no injuries or off-site impacts as a result of this event, and there is no need for the community to take any action. There will likely be intermittent flaring for the next several hours. Flares are safety devices that allow us to safely burn off product. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we are taking steps to minimize the flaring."

"I want them to quit gassing us," said Peshoff.

Peshoff believes there's more to it. He said he called the Department of Environment Quality.

Tim Beckstrom with DEQ confirmed the "Lake Charles regional office received a complaint this morning regarding strong odors from a flare at SASOL last night." He added, they "investigate all complaints." 

Beckstrom told KPLC that facilities who conduct a flaring event deemed above their mandated limits, are required to send them a letter within seven days detailing their investigation as to the cause.

When Peshoff said he spoke with DEQ, they told him, "We'll come out and check with you on it or we'll get back. And I ain't heard from them."

Ultimately, Peshoff wants answers.

"I'm 65 years old and I do not want to have to be a prisoner in my own home and run inside on account of being gassed," said Peshoff.

DEQ officials could not yet tell KPLC whether or not the flaring was deemed "above" mandated limits.

KPLC will keep you updated on when they find out.

Beckstrom said residents should call DEQ to report any environmental concern they may have, so they can log it in and investigate it. You can call toll free at 1-888-763-5424, or file an incident report online HERE

All public record documents pertaining to a facility can be found in DEQ's EDMS system HERE.

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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