What is the Refinery Accident Visualizer?

The Refinery Accident Visualizer is a graphical representation of accident data pulled from the Refinery Accident Database (RAD). The RAD compiles refineries' own accident reports submitted to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and presents them in an accessible, public and comprehensive manner. While this data is available from the state via their Electronic Data Management System (EDMS), the state's system provides no comprehensive view of refineries' reports. Their limited system only shows one report at a time!

The database contains summarized information from the LDEQ incident reports of 17 Louisiana refineries and a growing number of chemical plants from 2005-2013. This information is also released in LABB's annual Common Ground Report.

This database is a part of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade's Refinery Efficiency Initiative to protect health by preventing accidents at Louisiana oil refineries. Transparency and accountability for accidents is an important first step for reducing them.

What information is available in the database?

By utilizing the search feature, anyone can search for accident information by date, refinery, chemical, cause, zip code or incident number. You can also click on the refinery names to get more information, including a year-by-year summary of the incidents, specific pollutants released and a PDF copy of the original accident report.

Citizen complaints submitted to LDEQ are also accessible on the database by clicking on an individual refinery. These complaints are reported by community members who witness refinery accidents first-hand. The reports may include information about odors, health effects or if LDEQ was able to connect any accident reports filed by the refinery to the complaint during an investigation.

How does the LABB get the accident reports?

These refinery reports are, by law, publicly available. We obtain the reports from from LDEQ through public records requests. The reports are also available on the LDEQ Electronic Document Management System:http://edms.deq.louisiana.gov/app

Where can I find out more information on refinery pollution?

The Right-to-Know Network: http://rtknet.org

Toxics Release Inventory: http://epa.gov/tri

Environmental Integrity Project: http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/

Global Community Monitor: http://www.gcmonitor.org/

What is Below Reportable Quantity (BRQ)?

BRQ stands for "below reportable quantities". Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, refineries are required to notify the state department of environmental quality (LDEQ) of any releases of hazardous materials. There is a reporting threshold set for each chemical regulated by the EPA, called a "reportable quantity." For example, the reportable quantity for sulfur dioxide is 500 pounds, but for benzene it is 10 pounds. A report is required within seven days if an accident exceeds the reportable quantities. Sometimes, refineries submit reports even if it is below reportable quantities. LABB includes all accidents reported to the LDEQ regardless of whether or not the threshold was exceeded. We believe that BRQ reports provide important information about problems at refineries. It is important to remember that even though an accident was “below reportable quantities”, pollution was still released during that accident.

Causal Factors

Causal Factor Explanation

Equipment Failure

Failed compressor, pump, or other piece of equipment. Incident due to a piece of equipment not working as expected or shutting down due to problems including a lack of maintenance, unexpected result from operation, and general breaking. Example 1: The Sulfur Refining Unit failed due to an incorrect mixture of gas. Example 2: A malfunction of the stackmatch pilot delayed the restart of the inline heater

Process Upset

Safety valve release or release from flare or other control device, not due to failure of instrumentation, etc. Example: There was an operational upset with the wet gas compressor at the Coker Fractionator that resulted in the opening of the unit's pressure control valve. Wrong feed stock (this includes excess or lack of pressure)

Human Factors

Incident due to human error. Example: Technician working on pressure instrument did not notify unit operating controller.


Incident due to scheduled maintenance or procedures. Example: MCCU was shut down so that a pinhole leak on the Millisecond Cat Cracker unit could be repaired

Equipment Design

Incident due to faulty equipment design. Example: Engineering design flaw in Transformer protective relaying scheme caused the 4.16kV tie breaker to open. Valves can be included here when a poor design is declared the reason of a leak.


Incident due to corroded parts or machinery. Example: Line leak developed due to internal corrosion.

Instrument Failure

Incident due to failure of instruments used to monitor operations. Example: T-31 was overflowing due to level indicator not working.

Seal or Gasket

Incident due to faulty seal or gasket. Flange leaks are included. Example: Loss of a water seal on the blowdown system at the Coker 2 Unit.

Piping or Tubing

Incident due to leaks in piping or tubing. Example: leak in tube on 1st stage fin fan

Power Failure

Incident due to loss of power at refinery. Example: SRU shutdown when Entergy reported power loss.


Incident due to storms - heavy rains, wind, lightning, flooding, hurricanes, etc.


If the cause is not listed here, ASK first before putting other.

Under Investigation

The facility/LDEQ claims the incident is “under investigation” or they are still investigating the root cause of the accident at this time

What are HAPs and GHGs?

Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) are all pollutants that may cause cancer or other health effects. This list of 187 pollutants was created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are regulated more strictly than other pollutants. Read more about HAPs and see the full list on the EPAs website.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and allow sunlight to enter more freely, furthering the process of global warming. According to the U.S EIA's 2009 Annual Energy Outlook report, the refining industry produces more in than 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. More information can be found on the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions page.

Difference between gallons and pounds of pollution

Pollution from refineries is either reported in pounds or gallons depending on what was released. Air emissions are reported in pounds, while any liquid spills to ground or surface water are reported in gallons.