Parish council denies BFI permit request

Brandie Richardson

The Ascension Parish Council was met with applause from dozens of residents at the first meeting of the year held Jan. 6 after they unanimously voted to oppose a resolution that would grant a permit renewal and expansion to BFI Republic Landfill near Sorrento. Much resistance was met due to the site's proximity to thousands of residents, 25 drinking water wells, jurisdictional wetlands and also the thousands of odor complaints received.

Over 10 residents spoke in opposition of the renewal, sharing various personal stories of the horrendous odor and toxic waste emitting from the landfill.

One resident, who said he is Colonial Republic's closest neighbor, said he currently has chemical toxicity from the chemical waste from BFI.

"When I come home in the evening I would like to come home to a safe haven," he said. "The only time we can breathe in our house pleasantly is either west wind or north wind. The influx of chemical tank truck is increasing daily and so is the emissions of BFI."

Wilma Subra of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network added that in the last few years, the landfill has received approximately 293,000 tons of waste and that the current permit is requesting to add more than 1.33 million tons of waste a year.

"I don't think that Ascension Parish should be a trash can anymore. We accept trash from all over the nation and I think that time has passed," said Councilman Aaron Lawler.

Karla Swacker from Republic Services who spoke on behalf of Colonial Landfill, asked the council not to oppose the permit because they have been part of the Parish for many years. She pledged that the company would work with officials to find the cause of the odors and work towards eliminating the smells.

"We take every precaution possible to prevent odors at the site, from prescreening to checking the load as it comes in to being able to manage it at the site and then longterm managing the methane at the site," Swacker said. "We understand that there is an odor that has been happening in the area. We have not been able to pinpoint the source of this odor, and neither has anyone else."

In other news, the council accepted the denial recommendation from the Zoning Commission to amend the zoning map from Medium Intensity Residential to Mixed Use 2 for a portion of the Harry Bullion property.

Three ordinances were approved for the Dantin Bruce Development LLC property, one revoking an existing 15 foot drainage servitude located on the northern and southern portion, another to revoke an exiting 12 foot utility servitude and a third to revoke and existing seven and one half foot servitude located on the eastern boundary of the property.

An ordinance was introduced to authorize the Parish to purchase a parcel of property for Sewer Program Improvements in the amount of $1,185.

A proposal from Picadilly was accepted for the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center Concession Operations.

The council voted to accept the settlement offer of $5,000 from Patteson Construction regarding the Hillaryville Sewer Line lawsuit.