ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. (WGNO) — Lieutenant General Russel Honoré met with Dr. Joy Banner for a town hall discussion focusing on new ways to improve disaster response in St. John the Baptist Parish following the refinery fire at the Marathon plant in August.

Banner said this discussion is the result of frustration following several recent emergency responses in St. John the Baptist Parish.

“There’s many questions that are being asked, and I feel like the parish and many parish officials are instead of holding these industries accountable, these corporations accountable, they are in a sense, giving them cover,” Banner said.

Most recently, the fire at the Marathon Refinery.

“That was such a long time before the evacuation was ordered, and then also we found out that it wasn’t just a fire. It was 15 hours before there was a gas leak. There was a Naphtha leak, and so, we were wondering what chemicals are in the atmosphere, what are the ramifications, the emissions,” Banner said.

Honoré said that any delayed response is dangerous and can put residents in unnecessary harm.

“We have to be better that in Louisiana. We know how to get rid of hurricanes, but the day-to-day life along the river with all the plants, we’ve got to get an early warning when something happens in a plant, and we have to get accurate information,” Honoré said.

Along with discussing the response to the Marathon fire, they also discussed the community’s concerns regarding the potential impacts of the saltwater wedge making its way up the Mississippi River.

Honoré says the state and corps of engineers have been working hard on their emergency response, but it all begins at the top just like every other emergency response.

“I believe in the governor and corps of engineers are doing everything they can but it’s going to be up to the parish and the municipals to go ahead and get that water testing done in people’s homes and insure them that they’re safe,” Honoré said.

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