La. neighborhood wakes to outdoors coated in oil

by Brandon Richards bio | email

WESTLAKE, LA (KPLC-TV) – Residents in one Westlake, La. neighborhood woke up to an oily mess on Saturday morning.

Oily droplets covered vehicles, lawn ornaments and even mailboxes in the small community.

Neighbors of Tabitha McNabb first noticed the tiny droplets on their vehicle on Saturday and asked if McNabb's family had similar specks on any of their property.

"We noticed all of our vehicles also had this oil-like substance all over them," said McNabb.

McNabb spoke with other neighbors who found similar droplets peppered on their outdoor property, including on their plants, near their swimming pools but most visibly on their vehicles.

McNabb contacted local plants in the area as well as the Department of Environmental Quality to find out what the substance was. ConocoPhillips said the substance may be the result of an "equipment upset" at their facility located near the neighborhood.

"The Lake Charles Manufacturing Complex experienced an equipment upset early last Friday, Sept. 10. At the time, were unaware of any affect upon the community," said ConocoPhillips Public Relations Director Carol Collins. "Conoco Phillips is investigating and is working with those in the community who may have been affected."

On Monday evening DEQ officials were in the neighborhood taking samples of the droplets. Officials have not said how long it will take to get the results.

McNabb and other residents said they are primarily concerned what kind of impact the droplets may have on their health.

"I'm not out to bad-mouth any plant or anything. I just want the community to be aware of what's going on right under our noses," McNabb said. "Our health is the big issue. What is it doing to the inside of our body, our lungs, etcetera?"

McNabb and other residents say they expect minor accidents to happen from time to time since they live near plants, but they said they would like to receive some type of notification from the plants when something affects them.

DEQ advises anyone who lives in the area to take pictures and contact ConocoPhillips to let them know if any droplets turn up on their property.

Meanwhile, some residents in the neighborhood plan on meeting with attorneys to see if they should take any kind of legal action.

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