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Dow Chemical flaring after chlorine release Friday Dec. 2, 2016.

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FEIG

Iberville Parish's top emergency preparedness official said Friday she's confident her office won't have to rely in the future on second-hand sources for information about any significant incident at the Dow Chemical plant in Plaquemine.

Laurie Doiron, director of the Iberville Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, met with Dow Chemical officials on Wednesday, a day after she had publicly criticized that company and Olin Corporation for failing to quickly alert her office and for failing to keep it adequately informed about a Dec. 2 chlorine leak at the plant.

"Everything went very well," Doiron said Friday, referring to a sit down meeting she had with plant officials on Wednesday. "Everyone agrees the safety of the residents is just as important as their employees."

The leak, caused by a power outage at the plant, forced the evacuation of the plant's non-essential workers and a temporary shutdown of a portion of La. 1. Plant officials said the chemical leak occurred because the outage shutdown production units at one of Olin's facilities, which are located within the Dow plant.

Doiron had complained that her office had to contact plant officials to even find out an incident was taking place at the facility, which is located on La. 1 just outside the Plaquemine city limits. And, she said, plant officials downplayed the impact of the chlorine release, claiming it was confined just to the plant.

Doiron said he erred on the side of caution and issued a "shelter in place" order after receiving reports that from nearby residents claiming they were finding it hard to breathe and their eye were burning .

Although no new policies were discussed at this week's meeting Doiron said, she stressed to company officials that "anything that goes on at the facility we need to know about it to keep the public abreast."

Officials at Dow pointed out they had made all the appropriate reports with the state's regulatory agencies about the incident.

Dow spokeswoman Stacey Chiasson said in an email Friday the meeting with Iberville Parish officials went well.

"There was good dialogue from both sides on how we can improve communication in an ever changing world of technology and social media," Chiasson said.

 Ascension panel tackles confusing road names

Getting lost is one thing, when a person is trying to find a holiday party. It's another thing, altogether, if that person is a first responder on the way to an emergency.

An Ascension Parish board whose duties include training dispatchers for the local 911 Center is setting standards for the naming of street names as new subdivisions come on line to make sure they don't cause confusion. The  street names are put into the parish geographic information system system that first-responders rely on to get where they need to be.

"Street names are never duplicated, but they're sometimes too similar," said Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley, whose office operates the 911 Center.

Road names that are too alike or confusing, in some way, can make it "a little dicey" for the first responder going out on a call, said Wiley, who chairs the Ascension Parish Communications District, commonly called the 911 Board, that's tweaking guidelines for new street names.  

Representatives on the seven-member board include those from parish government, the parish office of emergency preparedness, local law enforcement agencies and fire departments.

Present street names won't change, but the new standards set by the board say that, going forward, there should be no duplicate road names. For example, guidelines say, if there's a "Tranquil Street," there shouldn't be a "Tranquility Street."

And if there's a "Buck Street," there shouldn't be a "Buck Street E."

Preston Landry, assistant fire chief with the Gonzales Fire Department, who also serves on the 911 Board, said it's one thing for someone to be able to name their street calmly, on any given day.

But in the face of an emergency, that might be different.

The new standards also say it's best if street names don't have a directional prefix — such as North, South, East or West) — as a part of the name.

And, they say, no road name in the future should  have a number spelled out as any part of the name.

As an example of that, Landry noted that Sorrento has a road named One Robin Bird Lane.