PLAQUEMINE, La. (BRPROUD) — In a letter sent Monday, Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, Jr. tells residents that the shelter-in-place notice issued in April during the Dow plant chemical release should have been in effect for over 30 hours.

A chlorine release at Dow Chemical in Plaquemine forced residents in the area to shelter in place and closed LA 1 in both directions on Monday, April 18. The notice issued at around 9 p.m. that night was lifted several hours later.

It was found that the leak at the plant was sparked after a compressor caught on fire, releasing chlorine gas, according to Olin Corporation.

Ourso said he met with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Louisiana State Police on July 25. In that meeting, he said he was told that the chlorine levels at the time Olin advised the lift of the shelter in place notice were not accurately reported to parish officials and responding agencies.

“In fact, the Chlorine levels in the monitoring area were higher than the level reported by Olin,” said Ourso in the letter. “I was told by DEQ and State Police that the ‘shelter in place’ order should have remained in effect for 34.5 hours. I will not tolerate reporting of inaccurate information by Olin during an emergency.”

The parish president calls the misreporting of chlorine levels a “grave concern,” citing how the chemical could seriously injure those living near the leak. Days following the leak, the Advocate reported that at least 23 residents were hospitalized within 30 hours after the leak began.

DEQ and State Police are currently investigating the April chlorine leak.

“I expect DEQ and State Police to conduct a full investigation of Olin’s actions related to this dangerous Chlorine leak and impose any penalty that may be appropriate,” said Ourso.

Ourso said any residents with comments or concerns can reach out to his office. Click below to read the full letter: