The refineries call the accidents "unauthorized discharges."

The state of Louisiana supports 17 oil refineries, which have been polluting less and less in the past 20+ years, but a new study shows that accidents still spew toxic emissions into the air.

According to an article in the Times-Picayune, a new study led by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade found the refineries averaged about an accident a day in 2010, often due to poor maintenance and aging piping.

The air pollution from accidents made up a little less than half of the total emissions by refineries.

One accident per day seems to be a bit worrying, but at least the 2010 accident rate was lower than the average rate for the five previous years.

State records could be underestimating pollution from refineries, the study’s leader says, since departments generally rely on company self-reporting and on estimates rather than direct measurements.

In one accident on March 2, 2010, about 100,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds were released when an emergency flare’s pilot flame failed to light.

Source: The Times-Picayune

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