- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Environmental groups and a Belle River community group filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources alleging that the departments should never have granted a permit for an injection well.

FAS Environmental Services has operated in lower St. Martin Parish for years, even grandfathered into its current location after the parish passed zoning regulations in the 1990s. However, in February 2014, the company applied for the rezoning of property closer to the well it has been using for woodland/residential. The new land use would be heavy industrial and allow the company to build a new transfer facility.

The St. Martin Parish Planning and Zoning Commission denied the request, but instead of appealing to the parish council, the company decided to apply directly to the Department of Natural Resources for a permit. Following a public hearing in February, the Department of Natural Resources approved the permit in May, saying it could pre-empt local zoning when it deals with oil and gas issues. The injection well primarily handles production waste from oil and gas exploration and production.

“We did our part,” said Julie Hines, member of the Concerned Citizens of Belle River.

Members of the group involved in the lawsuit testified at the public hearing about their concerns, but in the end couldn’t convince the Department of Natural Resources to deny the permit.

The lawsuit filed June 30 alleges that the state department erred in granting the permit because it disregarded local zoning in making the decision, didn’t do a good enough cost/benefit study on the proposal and didn’t look broadly enough at alternative locations for the facility.

A Department of Natural Resources official told The Advocate (https://bit.ly/1LVCPR0) the department hadn’t been served with the lawsuit and couldn’t comment.

Department of Natural Resources officials have said that each of the concerns has been examined and addressed during or before the permit application process.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com


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