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On April 3, an estimated 2,548 barrels of carbon dioxide leaked from an Exxon CO2 pipeline in Sulphur, Louisiana. The incident reported to the sheriff by a resident after calls to the company were not answered. CO2 pipeline companies often tout their 24/7 control room. But it is often farmers and residents that place the call.

No one was on site and the camera was not working. The company learned about the leak from emergency services. Exxon should have known about the leak from the loss of pressure, and immediately turned it off. Instead, it took two hours to get someone on site to stop the release. CO2 gas spread widely enough into the surrounding area that the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury issued a shelter-in-place order at 6:30 pm for a quarter-mile radius in the neighborhood where the leak took place at Exxon/Denbury Resources’ Lake Charles Pumping Station.

Wearing masks and air tanks, the crew stopped the leak just before 8:30 pm – nearly two and a half hours after it was first reported, according to records from the Ward Six Fire Protection District in Calcasieu Parish. The shelter-in-place advisory was lifted at 9:15 pm.

While investigations are ongoing, officials have said the cause of the April 3 leak may be the result of an O ring failure on the launcher pig trap door. The Sulphur incident should raise “alarm bells” in Louisiana, where, like Illinois, the oil and gas industry is backing political efforts to fast-track the construction of CO2 pipelines and carbon capture and storage.

Read more about this accident here:
Louisiana Illuminator
Latest carbon dioxide leak raises concerns about safety, regulation
MAY 1, 2024

The Guardian
‘Wake-up call’: pipeline leak exposes carbon capture safety gaps, advocates say
APRIL 19, 2024

ISS Source
LA Pipeline Leak Forces Shelter-In-Place
APRIL 16, 2024

Channel 7 KPLC 
Shelter-in-place lifted north of Sulphur after pipeline leak stopped
KLPC Digital team
APRIL 4, 2024

What do we know about CO2? 
In normal room air, carbon dioxide percentages are very low (around 0.04%). It is a colorless, odorless, and nonflammable gas that accumulates near the ground (CO2 is 1.5 times heavier than air). 

Carbon dioxide not only causes asphyxiation by hypoxia but also acts as a toxicant. High CO2 concentrations can cause seizures, hearing and vision loss, respiratory dysfunction, disorientation, coma or even death - all within minutes. 

Concentrations of CO2 we need to be concerned about:

  • 3%:                 Maximum 15-minute short-term exposure level
  • 4%:                 Immediately dangerous to life and health.
  • 5% to10%       Unconsciousness, convulsions, coma and death

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