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A study shows Louisiana has 8 of the worst water-polluting refineries in U.S.

Louisiana – January 30, 2023

An analysis of wastewater discharge records from 81 refineries was undertaken by the Environmental Integrity Project and found South Louisiana refineries discharging some of the highest amounts of heavy metals, nitrogen and other pollutants into rivers, estuaries and other waterways. This study claims the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators are doing little to curb the half billion gallons of wastewater that pours from U.S. refineries each day. Federal standards enacted decades ago are rarely enforced and have failed to keep pace with advances in water treatment methods.

Chemicals toxic to ecosystems.

Nickel and selenium are toxic metals that can mutate fish, mangle reproductive systems and travel up the food chain to other sea life, birds and people. They also persist in the environment for long periods, potentially poisoning an ecosystem for decades according to EIP Director Schaeffer. Most Louisiana refineries named in the study did not respond to requests for comment or deferred questions to oil industry trade groups. The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, which represents many of the refineries, did not respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Clean Water Act requires the EPA to set limits on refinery pollutants and update them every five years as treatment technology improves. But the EPA has never set limits for several common refinery pollutants, including selenium, benzene, mercury, and cyanide, according to the report. And while the tools for treating these pollutants have become better and cheaper over the years, the EPA still holds refineries to standards set nearly 40 years ago.

Louisiana loose standards.

Louisiana rarely enacts stricter rules than the EPA. The state Department of Environmental Quality typically follows the EPA’s lead and has in cases fallen short of it. It has lately taken heat from the federal agency over allowing Black people to suffer disproportionate impacts from air pollution. Once refinery pollutants are in public waterways, they spread much farther than the neighboring communities, potentially contaminating the beaches where many people swim and the fish many people eat. The report estimates that nearly 70% of the refineries examined in 2021 discharged into a waterway that was listed as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act. Victims of toxic exposure believed to occur as a result of not following regulatory guidelines on wastewater containment should speak to a Lawyer at Stag Liuzza who can build a case to secure damage awards utilizing legal remedies against harmful illnesses when proven exposure from toxic water sources may be the cause.


The five most common forms of cancer from Louisiana data sets reveals it as frequent for prostate, breast, lung, colon, and kidney. About one in three people are diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life, and about one in five dies of cancer. Most cancers develop slowly and can appear any time spanning 5 to 40 years after exposure to a carcinogen.  Individuals who  believe there is a direct relationship between a cancer diagnosis and toxic wastewater exposures may need assistance from experienced environmental lawyers.

 Hire a lawyer.

Environmental attorneys understand the responsibility of oil refinery, airports, and manufacturing plants to initiate and make transparent the danger of toxic chemical use, and to complete pre and post-cleanup activities to lessen toxic exposures in drinking water and other water sources. When they fail to do this, negligence may be proven to support a claim for illness related to toxic exposure.  Attorneys at Stag Liuzza can review a case when illness has been documented and believed to be the result of toxins in water sources caused by wastewater runoff.


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  1. https://sph.lsuhsc.edu/louisiana-tumor-registry/data-usestatistics/louisiana-data-interactive-statistics/louisiana-cancer-data-visualization/
  2. https://www.nola.com/news/environment/louisiana-refineries-top-lists-of-worst-water-polluters/article_7bd467a6-9e78-11ed-ac5d-53635cd15bcb.html
  3. https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/safe-drinking-water-information-system-sdwis-federal-reporting
  4. https://legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=110567
  5. http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=109387
  6. http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=109371
  7. https://legis.la.gov/Legis/Law.aspx?d=87971
  8. http://legis.la.gov/Legis/Laws_Toc.aspx?folder=105&title=31
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