Thursday, February 16, 2012

Quality of Life

The Louisiana DEQ recently designated St. Bernard Parish non-attainment for sulfur dioxide health standards.

On a weekly basis residents are forced to deal with the odors emitted from the industrialized plants. It is not unusual for residents to shelter themselves in place and close all outside ventilation or to report being sick from the odors as they drive by these facilities along St. Bernard Highway and Judge Perez Drive. This is not to mention the loss of use of one’s property, the headaches, burning airways and nausea. The air at times is saturated with SO2 (sulfur) and other odors which are hard to describe. There have been incidents where the odors infiltrated homes and it took residents hours to purge. Upholstery, sofas and clothing reek for days.

There is hope as residents ask the new council to address the pollution issues on the grounds of quality of life for its residents. There are records of numerous complaints filed through the decades relating to these businesses. Even the Fire Chief recently filed a complaint pertaining to what he observed emitting from a petroleum coker unit.

In prior years, oily water was discharged into the neighborhood canal, the 20 Arpent Canal, which meanders through neighborhoods before discharging into the nearby estuaries of the Central Wetlands. This still has the potential to occur with rains as little as four inches and it causes many residents to become sick from the petroleum fumes infiltrating their homes. The neighborhood canals have been allowed to be used as an emergency by-pass route for too many years; yet, the Louisiana DEQ does not allow this practice in other parishes.

Another big concern is the LLT property redevelopment plan which will be used as a baseline for changes to the Parish’s Master Land Use Plan. Residents do not want HRQL Commission members (Housing, Redevelopment, and Quality of Life) making decisions based solely on economics; they want someone looking at the overall picture. This picture should include "Quality of Life" for its residents.

We do need jobs but we also need a cleaner environment in St. Bernard. The EDC (Economic Development Commission) recently requested a budget increase to include a lobbyist to help the heavy industries expand in our community. Many believe the monies would be put to better use by funding students to canvas neighborhoods for a health census instead of trying to get more environmental unfriendly businesses here. What good is money if you can't enjoy it because you have to spend it all on health care, incapacitated or deceased from the air one is forced to breathe?

submitted by a concerned resident

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