The Alsen/St. Irma Lee Community Enterprise Inc. is hosting a community meeting Monday to discuss Devil’s Swamp Lake remediation and other issues having to do with the community.
“It’s going to be an opportunity to exchange information and get information,” said the Rev. Betty Claiborne, chairwoman of the Alsen/St. Irma Lee Community Enterprise, Inc.
Among the things to be discussed is a draft of a tier 2 remedial investigation work plan for the Devil’s Swamp Lake site. The draft of the tier 2 remedial investigation work plan includes a proposed way to gather biological tissues samples to address the status of fish consumption advisory and collection of more samples from South Bayou Baton Rouge, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Devil’s Swamp is near Alsen and Scotlandville and is a wetland, floodplain and lake that covers about 12 square miles. Industrial facilities discharged contamination into this area starting in the 1960s and sampling from federal and state agencies have found concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, that are of concern, according to the EPA.
“The extent of contamination and volume of contamination have not been established,” according to a fact sheet from the EPA.
The area was proposed to be included on the National Priorities List in 2004 and its status is pending, according to the EPA.
“At one time, Devil’s Swamp was a place that people in Alsen depended on for fishing and hunting for food,” Claiborne said. “A lot of people made they’re living from the swamp.”
There are fish consumption advisories on the swamp and lake now. That has been one impact of the Devil’s Swamp contamination, but “we don’t know what the health impact has been,” Claiborne said.
According to the EPA’s fact sheet, about 1,500 people live within two miles of the site.
A technical adviser hired through a Technical Assistance Grant from the EPA will be at the meeting to answer questions. The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. at BREC’ Alsen Park, 601 Old Rafe Meyer Road.
In addition, the meeting will include a discussion about writing a new vision for the area and making suggestions for programs that need funding in the surrounding communities, according to a notice from Alsen/St. Irma Lee Community Enterprise, Inc.