Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Its Hurricane Season, Are Your Canals Ready?

Its the most active time of Hurricane Season and the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District has failed to maintain its storm drainage canals. State Senators and Legislators alike are well aware. Yet nothing is changing.

The Lake Borgne Basin Levee District became part of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East in 2006 by an act of the State Legislature and is governed by a Board of Commissioners appointed by the Governor.

Perhaps Governor John Bel Edwards can help us prevent flooding

Negligent would not be strong enough word if it is true that the LBBLD has made deliberate decisions to purposely not maintain an integral component of the flood protection plan.Yet, the LBBLD still collects property tax dollars dedicated to the maintenance of these canals. Citizens did not authorize the Flood Authority to re-direct our tax dollars to other components.

The claim of lack of funding is no excuse, because these trees shown in photos below have been growing in the canals for well over a year, if not two years. The trees could have been removed during the fall and winter months when levee grass does not need as much mowing. Instead, the Flood Authority has allowed the overgrowth to continue and to develop islands and mud flats in the drainage systems they are responsible to maintain. It will likely require a very long, laborious, and costly dredging program to bring the canals up to par.

 Lake Borgne Basin Levee District storm drainage canal at Despaux Drive

Lake Borgne Basin Levee District storm drainage canal at Missouri Avenue (yes there is a storm water canal under there somewhere)

LBBLD storm drainage canal facing Valero Energy tank farm

Yes, Virginia, there is a canal under there at Chalona and St Bernard Highway and also under the growth at Val Reiss and Chalona below. Not to mention mosquitoes (Zika, West Nile, Yellow Fever)

.  Maybe the Governor's Office can help.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our children deserve safe and healthy places to play

Update May 2017

St. Bernard Parish Recreation Parents
9 hrs
I didn't do a hard count, but it seemed like about 50 people attend the parish president's town hall tonight (a few people came and left). So for the 1800 plus of you that didn't make it... here is a 30,000 ft view recap.
1) Valero has "committed" approx 75K towards a park for Versailles. This would be located in the boundaries of their [oil spill] zone. The Versailles board is currently looking at options in conjunction with parish government.

Update June 2017
FB Post

In a community where local officials knew or should have known the tank farm had numerous issues before the hurricanes of 2005, it is no surprise that some would misrepresent an industrial solid waste buffer area as a safe site selection for recreational baseball. To purposely bring children, women of child bearing age, and the elderly (grandparents) to this location is just wrong.  

Reposted from October 2016

Before making any decisions [on new ballpark locations], an independent laboratory should conduct environmental and health risk analysis for heavy metals, PAHs, and other toxins in the soil, ground water, and air. 

All soils at parish playgrounds and ball parks should be screened for lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel, and, depending on the results, additional testing and soil removal should be conducted. Initial screenings cost as little as $10 per sample.

St Bernard Parish Recreation ball park proposal for area of Murphy Oil spill in close proximity to the solid waste surface impoundments, located just east of this site recommendation.

Notice the oil booms in the earthen conveyance ditch.  As an existing solid waste unit, the facility receives a waiver from the State required buffer zone between the solid waste units and its property line. There is another State required buffer zone between solid waste units and nearby churches. The waiver or exemption does not mention future site selections for a recreation sports park.

this is the same area where oily waste water can be held for WWTP malfunctions or rain events

North of Judge Perez between Jacob and Despaux and Judge Perez and Missouri

Our children deserve safe and healthy places to play.

Do we have that much surplus money in the local budget to afford a brand new ball park?  Especially after investing about $22 million in Val Reiss?

If we are going to develop a brand new ball park, shouldn’t we explore all options?  Other sites include the ball field next to the communication towers, or acquisition of vacant land along St Bernard Highway between Octavia and Plaza or between Lena and Corinne.  The Octavia-Plaza site is for sale, was a former trailer park, and has access from both highways (Judge Perez and St Bernard).

Funding sources could include the $3 million Murphy oil spill Cy Pres fund, the Chalmette Refining settlement funds, grants and donations. These funds should also be considered for improvements to our existing playgrounds and ball parks, such as Violet park, or for the development of a skate board park. 

Before making any decisions, an independent laboratory should conduct environmental and health risk analysis for heavy metals, PAHs, and other toxins in the soil, ground water, and air. 

All soils at parish playgrounds and ball parks should be screened for lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel, and, depending on the results, additional testing and soil removal should be conducted. Initial screenings cost as little as $10 per sample. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

calling all people who care

If the EPA Sits On Its Hands, Citizens Will Get to Their Feet

States, the Feds, and the EPA aren’t the only ones who have power to protect the environment

What can environmental groups and all people who care about the environment and public health do in response?

States, governments, and the EPA aren’t the only ones who have the power to protect the environment. Citizens can take action, too. The nation’s environmental statutes have citizen suit provisions such that aggrieved citizens can bring enforcement actions—essentially stepping into the shoes of the federal government.

“The citizen suit provisions [of The Clean Air Act] have two prongs,” says Richard L. Revesz, the Lawrence King Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at New York University School of Law, where he directs the Institute for Policy Integrity. “Citizens can sue polluters for violating the environmental standards that apply to them. If the EPA or a state doesn’t bring enforcement actions against a polluter [that is] emitting more air pollution than is permitted under the regulation, some affected individual can bring a suit to compel a source to comply with its regulatory obligations. The second is that EPA under the statute has various non-discretionary duties. That is, it’s required by statute to take certain actions, and if it doesn’t do them, that’s another possible reason for citizen litigation. Citizens can then sue to compel EPA to carry out a non-discretionary duty under the statute.”

Sunday, March 5, 2017

economic development and safe, healthy environment not mutually exclusive

Dan Rather
There is no gated community when it comes to the environment. No wall high enough to stop dirty air. No guards who can check the IDs of the storms and droughts ...that will increase with intensity when it comes to the devastating effects of climate change. There are many social problems that the rich and powerful can wilfully disregard by separating themselves from the poor and powerless - but the environment isn't one of them. I really don't understand the motivations of those who seem eager to pollute the one Earth we all must call home. Never have. Never will.

And yet, from all accounts, Donald Trump's pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency could easily turn the name of the group he might soon lead into a mockery. The EPA is the cop on the beat to make sure our air is safe to breathe and our water safe to drink. Its role, in the age of climate change, is more vital than ever. You could argue that its mission now is one of national - and global - security for life as we know it. It was created by a Republican president - Richard Nixon - at a time that now seems utterly foreign, when the health of the planet was largely a bipartisan concern. But Pruitt is not of the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt - or even Nixon. He has, at seemingly every turn of his public, life worked hard to lessen if not destroy the very regulations and initiatives he will now be tasked to oversee - on soot-free air, water free of poisonous chemicals, and of course the crisis of climate change.

There will always be some friction between the needs of human beings, living in a modern world, and environmental protection. However modern science, technology and philosophies over how we move, generate power, conserve resources, even what we eat, can provide solutions for reducing the negative shadow our species casts over so much of life on Earth. By being bold and creative, we can be more prosperous and healthy. As Pope Francis said recently, we are "stewards not masters" of our planet. For the life of me, I can't see how anybody could find that statement controversial or objectionable unless you are so blinded by shortsightedness. It is a political trope to talk about the world you want for your children and grandchildren, but with the environment that is not spin. It's real. Deadly real. And we need leadership that understands that.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

which way are we going

Thomas Friedman The first law of Petropolitics
The first law of Petropolitics :  the price of oil and the pace of freedom always move in opposite directions

“. …the higher the oil prices rise, the more free speech, free press, free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, and independent political parties are eroded… the higher the price goes, the less petrolist leaders are sensitive to what the world thinks or says about them …the lower the price of oil the more petrolist countries are forced to move toward a political system and society that is more transparent, more sensitive to opposition voices, and more focused on building the legal and educational structures that will maximize their people’s ability…. “
which way are we going?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

refineries delayed maintenance

deferred maintenance for profit margin

leads to higher accident risk for workers

and potential for unplanned shutdowns which tend to adversely affect neighboring community

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Recent comments have eluded to Valero Energy’s Meraux plant seeking community projects to contribute to.  The need for a skate board park and bicycle trail head comes to mind.

With a lack of public input mechanisms to suggest community projects, perhaps it’s worth reiterating previously requested projects:

1) The Villere Plantation's brick drainage pump ruins have been entrusted, through a conservation easement  to the St. Bernard Parish Historical Society. Unfortunately, the conservation easement is scheduled to expire when the EPA CD is completed.   This wooded area on the former Villere Plantation grounds would make a wonderful bird and wildlife sanctuary. Bald eagles are known to nest in this area. It would also be a suitable location for a Central Wetlands observation deck north of the forty arpent canal.  

The Villere Plantation was the site of the British Invasion during the war of 1812. The Villere Plantation was listed as a War of 1812 Preservation Priority in the 2007 American Battlefield Protection Program Report to Congress. "The priorities indicate which sites, in the opinion of the National Park Service, merit immediate preservation action, which need ongoing preservation action, which require additional study, and which are best suited for commemoration rather than preservation."

2)  Buy Back Program; allow homeowners  to increase lot sizes and give residents the opportunity of re-establishing our neighborhood feel.  Place conservation easement on the remaining land titles to provide commitment to a truly protective green zone buffer.

3)  Protect our children and pedestrians and resume the sidewalk replacement program to bring vacant lots to ADA compliance. Include the sidewalks from Ohio Street to Jacob Drive so residents can safely continue to ride bikes or walk along Jacob Drive.

4) Respect our families and our privacy and stop neighborhood surveillance tactics and invasive security cameras. Keep transient workers from trespassing, and provide workers with an evacuation route which does not include our neighborhoods.

5)  Improvements to increase the plant’s storm water capacity and to change the plan for waste water malfunctions, so that use of neighborhood canals for emergency discharges or overflows is prohibited.  Additionally prohibit use of the plant’s western rain water ditch for waste water malfunctions. This “west ditch” connects to the municipal storm water system which discharges into the nearby central wetlands.

6)  Appropriately fill the vacant lots to avoid mosquito infestation and virus transmission.

7) Provide public access to real time fence line monitor data, especially for benzene (not two week averages with data available months later). Continue the ambient air monitor station and real time access to its data beyond the EPA CD conclusion. Provide public access to the rain fall totals measured at the station.

8) Provide real time information during plant emergencies and other incidents.

9) Investments to upgrade the Meraux plant to BACT pollution controls.

10) Investment in operational adjustments for noise muffling and installation of noise abatement technology.

11) Comply with our local code and performance standards for nuisance, vibrations, noise, dust, night work, truck traffic, screening fences, dumpsters and parking lot litter.

12) A good neighbor demonstrates respect on a daily basis for the people who live on the other side of the fence line.  Merge the CAP and the emissions data meeting to allow the general public to attend its CAP meetings and allow information from CAP meetings to be made available to the public.

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