PORT ALLEN — State air monitoring teams will patrol the area near the Apex Oil Co. tank farm Tuesday in an effort to avoid an episode similar to a July incident when the company released foul-smelling steam into the air, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality officials said Monday.
Apex plans to mix a number of chemicals in one of its bulk storage tanks near Rivault Park on Tuesday, according to a DEQ news release. The company, which sells and transfers fuel, kerosene and asphalt, conducted a similar process on July 18.
During that incident, a mixture of heated asphalt and a water-based additive being pumped ashore from a barge produced a thick, pungent cloud of ammonia steam that prompted emergency responders into action.
Emergency personnel responding to the scene determined the steam was non-hazardous, Mayor R.J. Loupe has said. But several residents, including Loupe, complained that the steam was strong enough to cause a burning sensation in their eyes and throats.
Apex has since installed a vapor scrubber on the tank in question and it is expected to filter any toxic gasses that may escape during Tuesday morning’s mixing process, the news release says.
DEQ will have teams present over a 24-hour period to monitor the air near the tank farm and in surrounding neighborhoods, the release says.
DEQ will also have a mobile air monitoring laboratory on site to take continuous air readings, the release says.
The state will stop Apex from mixing chemicals and launch investigate if any air readings are found to be abnormal, the release says.
Earlier this year, the City Council tried to stop Apex’s parent company, Center Point Terminal, from building additional tanks on the property.
The company petitioned the state in March 2007 to build three additional 200,000-gallon tanks in the vicinity, Chris Piehler, administrator of inspection for DEQ, has said.
The state approved permits for the three new tanks in February 2010, Piehler said.
Representatives for Center Point could not be reached for comment Tuesday.