Sunday, February 27, 2011

HF risk and alternatives

ACB News report refinery accidents with HF acid   Refinery industry fails to maintain equipment and deficiencies. Safety seems to take backseat.  Members of United Steel Workers Union are asking congress to ban the use of HF acid.

WGNO ABC26 story on local refinery

NOLA lens article on toxic acid unnecessary risk

Fairwarning article that millions at risk

Thursday, February 24, 2011

talking trash

there maybe more behind the trash pickup and dump area disagreement with SBPG and SDT

LA DEQ inspection report

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wetlands Coverup

Meraux / Jean Lafitte Wetlands Photos

Photos of wetlands on the Meraux/Jean Lafitte site in western Chalmette.  According to neighbors adjacent to these properties, the photos clearly show the wetlands in their "original" state, fully inhabited by beautiful wildlife.

 Then there are the photos of the wetlands coverup, literally.  Neighbors photographed and describe what they witnessed as the destruction of wetlands and coverup with sand of any indigenous fauna and flora of the wetlands on that tract of land.  The photos depict that same wetland area after it was "intentionally" bulldozed to "intentionally" rid this property of any wetland evidence, according to residents.  After the property was "intentionally bulldozed," evidence of the wetlands "fought" to come back in the form of the green vegetation, and then neighbors witnessed someone came back to this property and "intentionally" sprayed dangerous chemicals to make sure they would kill any vegetation evidence of wetlands, according to witnesses.  There are photos of the property clearly depicting the areas that were sprayed with chemicals.

At what point was the tract of land surveyed for information for the Corps of Engineers wetland determination, study or mitigation decision?

UPDATE:    A representative of the Army Corps of Engineers addressed the local council on March 1, 2011 and explained the Meraux Foundation requested a determination of the entire tract of land in 2003.  It was determined that parts of the tract were wetlands, while other parts were not.  According to the representative, subsequently in 2008, the Louisiana Office of Community Development submitted a land use request to the Corps for the above photographed site.  The representative attempted to explain the site polt submitted by the LA OCD was some how inadvertently identified as another portion of the land tract and therefore mistakenly not properly identified as wetlands.  The developers are expected to submit an application after the fact and the Army Corps will access whether or not the application will be approved or denied.

The Army Corps recently marked an area of the site with flagged stakes and issued a cease and desist on just the area marked with stakes.  The photographer of the above sites informed the council that the area marked with flagged stakes is not the same area of wetlands in the photographs.  Additionally, this resident reported that the developer moved equipment off of the marked and flagged area only to move the equipment back again.  According to the same resident, the flagged stakes were then removed.

Area map


citizen's question lack of wetlands study


Chalmette citizens rallied at a news conference Friday to question the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE)  and local government officials on a Dallas developers lack of wetlands study and wetlands application. 

According to local residents, the developers scheduled crews to work nights to clear and fill four sites during a time when the local officials were in the nation's capital for the annual Louisiana Delegation Washington Mardi Gras Ball.

The two construction sites in these photos are located on the same tract of land donated to the local Hospital Service District (HSD) for the community's new rural hospital, also under construction (note the equipment for piling work).

The HSD was required to perform environmental assessment studies, including historical and archaeological due to the national historical significance of the Battle of New Orleans.  The HSD was also required to perform a wetlands study, which determined the required wetlands mitigation by the HSD. Residents have asked the HSD Chairman for information towards any agreements between the HSD, the land donor, or the regulating authorities which may have allowed use of these studies by the private developer.  SEE NOTE at bottom for an HSD Board member's response that no such agreements exist.

The developer's other two construction sites, cleared and filled at the same time, are located in the same area as a residential subdivision and big box store that were both required to perform a wetlands study and mitigation.  Remote access boxes for phone utilities have been raised to what looks like over 15 feet due to new FEMA elevation requirements.  Drainage is a real problem at all four development sites and the HSD site.

Residents on the western border of the HSD area noted local road work projects last year had been delayed over three weeks due to nesting bald eagles.  Other residents reported the developer's tract of land in the HSD area was posted as wetlands to keep people from disturbing the natural habitats, shown in photos. 

Lack of public information before decisions are made, roadblocks to public participation, and deviations from permit application protocol have been noted.  The four sites had been granted building permits, which expired after a year of inactivity.  The federal courts ordered the parish reissue the building permits or be held in contempt of court on fair housing violations. 

But that is not the issue.  The issue citizens questioned at the rally is the seemingly preferential treatment on such an important issue as wetlands mitigation requirements and the inability to easily receive accurate information from either the COE or local officials.

It's an election year and that's makes it open season for innuendos and personal accusations, which have begun to distract some from these issues of concern.  Politics does not interest the citizens any more than the false stereotype of Chalmations as all racist individuals.  Residents want answers and accountability and they want it now.

NOTE:   An HSD Board member posted the following clarification.  The initials MF stand for the privately held Meraux Foundation that donated the land to the HSD and sold three of the four tracts to the Dallas developer.
For clarification, NO part of any work done by the HSD is connected in any way to whatever the MF is doing. You are correct, thousands had to be spent on the listed studies which are required to access CDBG funding. This includes approximately $60,000 we had to pay to the Land Bank in order to mitigate the acre or so of wetlands identified in our assessment. This was a lengthy process and they wouldn’t even let us drive a pick-up truck on the site until the mitigation was complete. Our studies were only conducted on the HSD-owned portion of the tract.

To answer your other question, after trying and unfortunately failing (once due to a vote of the HRQL and once from another source) to secure TWO other sites for the hospital which we felt were better, we accepted the MF donation of land only AFTER we completed some rather heated negotiations with them that insured the Hospital project remained free of any outside future influence.

please feel free to contact us at any time and we are glad to provide you with accurate information. That's what the problem is half the time on the issues -- inaccurate "spin". Every citizen should be encouraged to research and ask for documents, etc., and we welcome the inquiries.

The Army Corps of Engineers should be embarrassed along with any other person or agency that allowed this Dallas developer to side step the rules ;  the local officials should take notice that residents want input into such large decisions BEFORE the decisions are made, not just dealt with as a public relations hurdle.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

St. Bernard Community Meeting

Community Meetings on Self-Reported Health Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster
St. Bernard: Monday, February 21, 6pm

Los Islenos Museum  --  1357 Bayou Road

St. Bernard, LA 70085  --  (In the hall behind the main museum building)

For More Information click here

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tree Planting February 12th and March 12th

Please join Parks & Parkways Commission and St. Bernard Community Foundation Neighborhood Initiatives in the re-planting of oak trees on Saturday, February 12 at 8:00am at Christian Fellowship Church, 5816 E. Judge Perez Dr., Violet for a brief planting demonstration and assignments.

Volunteers will work along Judge Perez Drive from Colonial Blvd in Violet to DeBouchel Blvd in Meraux. We will plant 50 trees in pre-dug holes. EASY....EASY! 

Please bring gloves and shovels and plan to join in a breakfast afterwards.  Please RSVP by Feb. 9th. If you would like to help by providing a breakfast casserole, muffins or fresh fruit, please contact Chairwoman Ms. Campbell.

WE NEED YOU! (And, again March 12th to plant 100 trees from Meraux to Arabi!)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

RESCHEDULED Third Public Meeting

PUBLIC MEETING RESCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY FEBRUARY 8 2011 at the same time and location.  Public comments due by February 14 2011.

Third public meeting for MRGO Ecosystem Restoration scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 3rd 2011. 

Public comment period ends Feb. 14, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - Members of the public will have another opportunity to submit comments on the Draft Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) ecosystem restoration plan at the Corps of Engineer's Thursday, February 3, 2011 public meeting. The meeting will feature an open house session with subject matter experts, followed by a presentation on the tentatively selected plan for restoring the areas affected by the construction and operation of the MRGO ship channel.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the MRGO ecosystem restoration Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Feasibility Study report are available for a 60-day public review period, which ends Monday, February 14, 2011. The report was made available for public review on Dec.  17, 2010 and can be reviewed by visiting .

The public meeting date and location is:
Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011
Light City Church
6117 St. Claude Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70117

Open house 6 to 6:30 p.m.
Presentation/discussion at 6:30

Members of the public can also submit comments by mail, email or phone.
Please contact:Tammy Gilmore, Environmental Manager,   (504) 862-1002
US Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District
C/O Tammy Gilmore, PDR-RS
Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Ecosystem Restoration
P.O. Box 60267
New Orleans, LA 70160-0267

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