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EPA Releases Sediment Sample Results from Murphy Oil Spill

Release Date: 11/9/2005
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released results of sediment samples affected by a one million gallon oil spill on Sept. 4, 2005 at the Meraux Refinery of Murphy Oil USA, Inc. in St. Bernard Parish, La. The spill affected an estimated 1700 private residences and other public areas.

    The results showed that several samples exceeded screening levels for residential soil of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), diesel and oil range organic chemicals, and arsenic. The screening level risk evaluation was performed by comparing the results of samples to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's (LDEQ) Risk Evaluation/Corrective Action (RECAP) Screening Standards for Soil. The RECAP screening standards are intended to be protective levels based on long-term (such as 30-year) exposures to children and adults in a residential setting.

    EPA continues to issue the agency's previous warnings that, in the short-term, residents returning to the area should avoid direct contact with the crude oil contaminated sediments. These compounds can pose a skin irritation problem if they get onto bare or broken skin. Skin contact with crude oils for short periods may cause itchy, red, sore, or peeling skin.

    In addition, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHHs) has developed a fact sheet, titled "Extra Precautions for Entering Oil Contaminated Properties in St. Bernard Parish," that recommends the following safety precautions for persons entering and/or cleaning properties in St. Bernard Parish impacted by the Murphy Oil Spill:

Protect your skin from contacting oil.
Use oil resistant gloves.
Keep arms and legs covered.
Wear coveralls or clothing that can be discarded.
If you get oil on skin, wash well with soap & water.
Open doors and windows to ventilate the oil-contaminated property.
Be careful not to bring oil-contamination to other places.
Wear boot covers or leave work boots at the oil-contaminated property.
Do not track oil or oily sediments into your car or truck.
Do not take items with oil to other locations that might contaminate others.
Do not wash clothes worn in the oil spill area with family laundry.
Children and pets should not enter the oil contaminated area.

    These recommendations are consistent with previous recommendations from EPA.

    EPA is overseeing Murphy Oil's ongoing sampling activities of residential and other properties. Ten percent of the samples Murphy collects are split, and EPA sends the split samples for independent analysis. Thus far, Murphy has collected 1484 sediment samples from 841 residences. Of the 1484 sediment samples collected, EPA has sent 144 split samples for separate analyses. EPA has received, evaluated and is posting the results of the first 90 samples.

    Detailed information about the Murphy Oil spill and test results are available at: