Louisiana Coal Hubs Ignite Human Health And Coastal Restoration Issues
In Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, tensions are rising over coal export terminals that present jobs but additionally threaten human health and could interfere with coastal restoration. Armstrong Power in Missouri hopes to open a company-backed RAM coal terminal in Alliance, La. on the west bank of the decrease Mississippi River in 2014. But residents of Ironton, located just south of RAM’s site, say they don’t desire their air high quality to get any worse than it is now. Ironton rig oil and gas jobs lies about 25 miles beneath New Orleans.
Coal and petcoke are amongst Louisiana’s high exports, with combined sales of $1.5 billion a yr. Louisiana produces petcoke — another to coal in power generation — from oil refining, however does not fully faucet its brown coal resources. Yet south Louisiana accounts for over a fifth of the nation’s coal exports and is making ready to ship way more. Houston-based mostly Kinder Morgan has expanded its Worldwide Marine Terminal or IMT, situated two miles south of Ironton close to Myrtle Grove. IMT is a 24-hour facility, storing coal and petcoke on the ground.
United Bulk Terminal, owned by Bulk Dealing with USA, is throughout the river from IMT and some miles south in Davant. Delivery coal and petcoke, UBT is the biggest, dry-bulk export facility on the Gulf, and plans to upgrade its site over the following two years.
Stan Mathes, Plaquemines Parish economic director, mentioned progress in the world’s coal export capability is geared to the Panama Canal’s enlargement by 2014 and larger trade with Asia. Lately, the Gulf has develop into a giant coal exporter because U.S. East Coast ports are congested and West Coast ports are expensive to achieve by rail. “The shortest route isn’t necessarily the cheapest rout in delivery,” Mathes mentioned.
Critics say one reason coal terminals are locating in Plaquemines is that Louisiana would not enforce its environmental legal guidelines as rigorously as many different states with ocean ports.
Final Thursday, the Plaquemines Parish Council, which governs the Plaquemines Port, Harbor & Terminal District, voted to rescind, however was unable to overturn, an April port-district decision that supported issuing bonds for RAM Terminals. That left support in place for RAM.
South Louisiana’s growth as a coal hub doesn’t sit nicely with Audrey Trufant Salvant, a fifth-technology resident of Ironton. She said “years ago, they constructed the IMT coal terminal south of us in Myrtle Grove. We even have the CHS Grain elevator close by in Alliance and the Conoco Phillips refinery barely north of that. We’re cleaning our properties and furniture more often and altering our air conditioning filters extra frequently. We’re not sitting outdoors as a lot as we did.” The IMT opened in 1978.
“Dust is in all places, and we’ve have more childhood asthma and grownup bronchitis in this area than we did previously,” she said.
What’s more, Salvant fears Ironton residents may be pressured to maneuver away to make room for the RAM terminal. “Rumor is they wish to relocate this neighborhood the place my family has lived for the reason that early 1800s,” she mentioned. Ironton, which was decreased to forty nine families after Hurricane Katrina, “is 100 percent African American, and our hunter and fisher ancestors have been here 200 years in the past. The first grave in my household’s cemetery is from 1803.”
Salvant said, “Before IMT opened its Myrtle Grove coal terminal, they moved the small neighborhood of Wood Park that I knew as a kid. These ten families took buyouts and ended up scattering to varied places, including different parishes.”
She noted, “African American communities in south Louisiana appear to be focused over and over again for these industrial websites, and we’re getting the worst from them.”
Final week, New Orleans-based mostly Charles Wesley, business improvement director with RAM Terminals LLC in St. Louis, said “RAM will not ask the group to relocate. We own our land at the location and there isn’t any need for individuals to maneuver.” He stated the facility will create 300 jobs dung construction and a hundred and twenty to 150 full-time jobs.
The terminal might be constructed with a system that sprays mist throughout scorching, dry conditions to damp down coal-pile mud, Wesley mentioned.
“We will likely be a giant taxpayer and some of these tax dollars can be used for coastal restoration. We’re working carefully with Garrett Graves’ office on the state’s Coastal Safety Restoration Authority rig oil and gas jobs and cooperating within the state’s restoration plans.” The terminal is to be situated at a spot where the state and the Military Corps of Engineers hope to build a river diversion to restore marshland.
At the Gulf Restoration Network in New Orleans, coastal wetland specialist Scott Eustice questioned why the positioning was selected by RAM. “Not only is it in an space where residents are already uncovered to multiple sources of pollution — from the IMT coal terminal, an oil refinery and a grain terminal — however RAM desires to construct at the precise location where the Corps is planning a diversion,” he mentioned. Eustice said the company’s negotiations with authorities, to comply with the needs of the diversion, may sluggish coastal restoration in the parish.
Eustice said Hurricane Isaac confirmed the threats that coal terminals pose for Plaquemines. “Floodwater overtopped every part during the storm, remedy pumps have been bypassed and there was a extreme lack of containment. Water containing coal ash was pumped into surrounding areas.” He noted that coal mixed with water leaves a telltale red stain.
RAM is rounding up permits for its export facility now. Louisiana Dept. of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Jean Kelly stated the corporate was issued an air rig oil and gas jobs permit on July 9, effective instantly. “The company will need a DEQ pollutant discharge elimination system, or LPDES, water permit, along with a Coastal Use Permit from the Dept. of Natural Assets,” she stated. “They cannot begin development till they have all permits.”
RAM additionally wants a permit from the Army Corps, Corps spokesman Ricky Boyett stated in New Orleans last week. If the state and the Corps do concern permits for the facility, “RAM might want to develop a wetland mitigation plan that’s acceptable to our useful resource companies, which embody the Nationwide Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, La. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” he said.
Boyett stated a feasibility examine is underway for the proposed river diversion. “The project, known as the Medium Diversion at Myrtle Grove with Dedicated Dredging, is slated for the decrease Mississippi River within the Barataria Basin,” he mentioned. “It is being studied in partnership with the Coastal Safety and Restoration Authority of Louisiana.” Water and sediment would be moved into the basin for restoration. “The intent of the diversion is to deposit and retain river resources to maintain a minimal 33,880 acres of marshland over the next fifty years,” he defined. The undertaking would incorporate dredging to build land.
On Sept. 21, The Sierra Membership, the Christian Ministers Missionary Baptist Association of Plaquemines and the Louisiana Environmental Motion Community challenged DEQ’s approval of a Clear Air Act permit for RAM Terminals in a lawsuit filed in nineteenth Judicial District Court docket.in Baton Rouge.
As for recent growth within the state’s coal exports, David Dismukes, energy studies professor at Louisiana State University, stated “Louisiana has oil and pure fuel, and we as a nation have oil, gas and coal. But other nations do not have all these energy options.”
China’s thirst for foreign coal has slackened not too long ago but European demand for U.S. coal has been crimson sizzling this 12 months. Wesley stated “coal on the RAM Terminal may come from any producing area in this country, and it could possibly be shipped to clients anywhere, almost definitely those in Europe, Asia and South America.”
Salvant in Ironton said of the expansion in coal terminals: “We need the jobs, but not enough to sacrifice our well being and our lives.” She said a few Ironton residents are employed at the IMT coal facility in Mrytle Grove.
Salvant and her neighbors have cause to worry. An April report by Sightline Institute, a Seattle, Wa.-based environmental nonprofit, stated “publicly accessible, satellite tv for pc imagery of Kinder Morgan’s port site at Myrtle Grove exhibits plumes of what appears to be coal mud, or presumably petroleum coke, contaminating the Mississippi River at a number of factors in and across the ship loading services.”
In a Sept. 6 assertion, the Gulf Restoration Network said Plaquemines’ two main coal terminals flooded during Isaac, pouring polluted runoff into surrounding water, wetlands and farm land. GRN Deputy Director Aaron Viles said plans to develop those two terminals and to construct a RAM Terminal in the neighborhood must be scrapped.
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