Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bayou cleaned

DEQ ordered the clean up of Bayou Trepagnier in St. Charles Parish

Shell/Motiva most likely had a DEQ issued permit which allowed the toxic dumping. DEQ is improving its water quality programs and water shed clean up efforts, but is not consistent.

Shell/Motiva was ordered to clean this Bayou and reroute discharges to the river. A newly constructed tank farm in St. James was not allowed to discharge to the local canals and instead was required to treat and discharge to the river.  Yet, some of the older facilities discharge permits allow dumping into local canals.

Just outside Chalmette, in Meraux, the Murphy Oil refinery's discharge permit public noticed for renewal, without any improvements to the dumping situation. The oil refinery, now owned by Valero, is allowed to dump untreated waste water - oily wastes - and waters from the tank farms into the neighborhood canals. It's bad to have benzene and other contaminants meander through neighborhoods and canals where people fish and crab.  At times,  the volume of oily discharge is so large that residents become sick from the petroleum fumes which enter their homes.

In a recent public meeting, DEQ tried to assure the public that IF oil were sent to the facility's rainwater ponds or the canals, it would be a violation.  Noted violations and mere fines do nothing to solve the malfunction problems, the inadequate storm water capacity, nor the pollution problems.  It adds insult to injury when DEQ and the facility further state that the dumping only occurs when it rains, and besides they are not dumping the “really, really, bad oil”.

In this area, all these canals empty into the nearby Central Wetlands of the Lake Borgne area, which is part of the Lake Pontchartrain water shed; even the smallest amount of oil waste and chemicals affect the ecological balance of these sensitive estuaries.

DEQ should not renew the permit until these local canals and wetlands are cleaned and restored and there is a written plan and timetable for required improvements at the facility; the improvements should include additional storm water capacity and re-routing the discharges for treatment prior to discharging to the river (instead of discharging untreated or partially treated flow to the canals).

It's sort of like discrimination when DEQ provides for public health and safety in one area of Louisiana but not another.

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