Refinery leak fouls up New Orleans

April 5, 2013 at 7:43 AM

NEW ORLEANS, April 5 (UPI) -- A minor incident at an oil refinery in Louisiana is believed to be the source of a strong odor noted near New Orleans, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality said a minor leak was reported from the Chalmette Refining facility near New Orleans. The facility is operated through a joint venture between Exxon Mobil and Venezuelan state energy company Petroleos de Venezuela.

"The facility reported and quickly stopped a leak early Wednesday morning and, while the investigation is still ongoing, officials currently believe it could be the source of the odor," the Coast Guard said. "The leak was contained to a unit at the refinery."

The Coast Guard said air monitoring indicated no harmful levels of chemicals associated with oil refining. The refinery business is working with state regulators to determine the cause and eliminate the source of the odor.

"We apologize to neighbors for any inconvenience this leak incident may have caused," Chalmette Refining Manager Janet Matsushita said in a statement. "The health and safety of neighbors, community, and employees are our top priority."

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