Terrebonne fights plan for wastewater well

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HOUMA, La. (AP) - Terrebonne Parish has asked state officials to hold a public hearing on a proposed wastewater injection well planned near a Houma neighborhood.

Transport company Vanguard Environmental has obtained necessary approvals to begin building the facility, which would inject oilfield waste thousands of feet below ground.

The Courier reported (http://bit.ly/1gImwqN) the parish last year lost a legal battle to block the facility after a court ruled a local ordinance banning hazardous waste facilities in proximity to neighborhoods does not apply to oilfield waste.

Parish President Michel Claudet said the parish is pursuing other action.

The Parish Council has approved hiring two environmental law specialists to aid in the effort.

“If Vanguard is able to comply with every letter of the law and filled out their application 100 percent correct, then we have no way to do anything other than be sited in this area,” Claudet said.

Earlier this year, a neighbor of the proposed well questioned calculations Vanguard used in getting an exemption from air-permitting and the associated public comment requirements.

That led the state Department of Environmental Quality to ask Vanguard to clarify the calculations. The company did so in a letter earlier this year.

Meanwhile, residents who live near the site have circulated a petition seeking a public hearing.

Resident Chris Domangue said the petition received more than 500 signatures and was sent to the Department of Environmental Quality.

State officials have not yet responded to the request for a hearing.

The Parish Council will soon debate proposed changes to Terrebonne’s flood prevention ordinance. One revision would specifically ban commercial wastewater wells in the flood plain that covers most of the parish.

“We don’t want these wells in special flood hazard areas,” said parish Planning Director Pat Gordon. “Anything we think could migrate outside their property and damage the environment in a wetland situation falls under this.”

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Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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