Dear Swinomish colleagues and community,
This is a brief update about the Shell Refinery chemical release that occurred on September 29, 2020. If you or community members are experiencing symptoms, or if you believe that you need medical attention, please call the Swinomish Medical Clinic immediately at: (360) 466.3167, your regular health care provider, or call 9-1-1 if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
We have asked for, but do not yet have, complete substantive information from Shell or Skagit County about the type or quantity of chemicals that were released. Shell’s initial outreach to us indicated that no Benzene was released, and Tribal Air Quality staff are working to verify this information by monitoring air quality. However, Benzene is of course not the only potentially harmful chemical present at Shell’s facility.
We believe it is very important to document any health symptoms or illness that you or community members feel as a result of breathing the odors and chemicals released from the Shell Refinery. In addition, Shell has informed the Tribe that a claim telephone number for the September 29th event has been established, which is below for your information:
In the meantime, while it is fresh in your minds, the Tribe has created a short electronic form that you may use to advise the Tribe of basic information relating to your experience. You may access the form at the following link to a Google document: https://forms.gle/4ng9qtdYE1d6J4aA7
The form asks whether you or community members experienced any of the following medical symptoms, rating them on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe:
- Coughing and throat irritation
- Nausea and gagging
- Headaches and migraines
- Breathing problems, including asthma symptoms exacerbated
- Eye irritation
- Sinus irritation and congestion
- Lung and chest pains
The Tribe plans to aggregate data collected through these forms anonymously. The Tribe anticipates that the anonymized data may be shared with the Environmental Protection Agency and/or the North West Clean Air Agency.
Finally, you may wonder about the timing of the emergency alert system notices that were texted. We understand that unfortunately the emergency alert system for incidents at the refinery was down on September 29 at about the time of the incident, resulting in delayed emergency notifications. It is our understanding from Skagit 911 that it is fully operational again. We also hope to obtain more information about this unfortunate coincidence.
Please share this message with any community members.
Thank you, and take care,
Stephen T. LeCuyer, Director
Office of the Tribal Attorney
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
11404 Moorage Way
LaConner, WA 98257