Problems Found in Oil Storage Program
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The federal government's emergency oil storage program in underground salt domes in Louisiana and Texas has many health, safety and environmental problems, according to a Department of Energy report.
Thomas Cornwell, an Energy Department environmental official who headed the study team which made the report, said while it was critical of the reserve's operations, the team did find that program officials are trying to comply with the complex environmental, health and safety regulations.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve includes six underground salt domes in Texas and Louisiana and a marine terminal on the Mississippi River at St. James. The reserve employs about 1,500 people, half of whom work in the reserve's administrative offices in Kenner.
The storage caverns contain about 570 million barrels of oil, which would be used in the event of an oil emergency, such as a cut off of imported oil.
In a letter to the head of the department's fossil energy division, Energy Secretary James Watkins said the concerns addressed by the report "can be attributed to the failure of top management to recognize the implication of problems and take prompt action for their resolution."
The report says a huge backlog of maintenance problems threatens the safety of workers. And it claims that officials of the Energy Department and New Orleanssed Boeing Petroleum Services _ which operates the storage program _ routinely have ignored environmental and safety laws. …