Co. denies it’s source of Friday cloud over river

A Chalmette industrial plant said it was not the source of a cloud of sulphur dioxide gas that hovered over the Mississippi River on Friday evening.

The gas was blamed for complaints of eye and throat irritation by passengers aboard a ferry crossing the river below New Orleans.

State environmental officials said they suspected the source was a petroleum coke processing plant in Chalmette. But a spokeswoman for the Rain CII plant reported that there was no release from the facility.

“The Rain CII Chalmette plant restarted operations yesterday after a routine maintenance shutdown,” said Rain CII spokeswoman Elizabeth Clouatre in an emailed statement.

“The plant has been and continues operating under normal conditions since start up yesterday and there was no release from our facility.

The gas resulted in an interruption of ferry service. However, the ferry had resumed operations Saturday morning, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development website.

The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office reported it was called about 6 p.m. Friday by someone on the ferry, who reported the passengers’ complaints and said there was a gray cloud sitting above the river.

The ferry had been crossing the river from Algiers to Chalmette.