Public Hearing on Toxic Waste Transfer Station

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Despite St. Martin Parish Council’s recent rejection of a rezoning request from F.A.S. Environmental Services the company is applying for a permit to build a transfer station for produced waters and fracking waste in the Atchafalaya Basin. According to the company’s permit application with DNR, F.A.S. expects to handle an average of 175,000 barrels of exploration and production (E&P) waste each month. The company estimates 99 percent will be “produced water” or waste from processes ranging from conventional drilling to hydraulic fracturing. If approved, the permit also would allow the company “to accept other types of waste, such as completion fluids, freshwater, rainwater, washout water, washout pit water, gas plant water liquids, pipeline wastewater and commercial facility waste.” The application also states that the waste can include or create hydrogen sulfide gas which is poisonous and is known for its rotten egg smell. The company operates an injection well 1.75 miles from the proposed transfer station.

E&P wastes are known to contain industrial chemicals, high concentrations of sodium, magnesium, iron, barium, strontium, manganaese, methanol, chloride, sulfates and other substances. Produced waters can contain hydrocarbons including the toxics benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Produced waters can carry naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) including radium. The USEPA allows a maximum of 5 picocuries of radium per liter of drinking water. Produced water in Louisiana has been found to contain radium levels as high as 9,000 picocuries per liter.

Belle River residents have said that they fear allowing the expansion will invite more heavy industry to the levee community where they live. They maintain that this facility alone could bring the equivalent of one tanker truck every 15 minutes on the levee highway, LA-997, which is tow lands, narrow and has little or no shoulders.

The Atchafalaya Basin is among the most important natural assets in southern Louisiana. It contains the largest and most productive swamps in North America. The Belle River area is the most productive in the entire Basin, containing the highest concentration of Southern Bald Eagles in the world. Also, bird watching itself has an economic impact of $85 billion a year in the U.S., and this area of the Basin is one of the best in North America for bird watching. Expanding industrial activity will surely cause further damage to Louisiana’s natural heritage, as well as eco-tourism in the area.

F.A.S. Environmental Services has an extensive record of violations of applicable regulations. The company has over 160 trucking violations and 14 enforcement actions from the Coast Guard including 13 Notices of Violation and 1 administrative penalty.
In 2012 the manager of the F.A.S. facility was convicted of illegally pumping more than 380,000 gallons of industrial waste into the injection well at Belle River.

Sierra Club Delta Chapter is in support of St. Martin Parish officials who have the authority to zone their communities to exclude dangerous industrial activity. We are in support of Atchafalaya Basin Keeper who first identified this potential health and safety hazard.

You can help by attending the DNR’s public hearing Thursday, February 26th at 6:00 PM at the Belle River Fire Station, to show your opposition to the permit.

Date: Thursday, February 26, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Location: Belle River Fire Station. 1207 A Hwy.70, Belle River, LA

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