Nearly the first hour and a half of a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed landfill permit application for north Baton Rouge was taken up by elected officials voicing their opposition to the permit.
East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Councilman Trea Welch, Mayor-President Kip Holden, State Rep. Dalton Honoré, Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, the Baker City Council and Mayor Harold Rideau through a resolution passed Tuesday night, all expressed opposition to the permit application.
At the same time, at least 70 of the 175 people who showed up at the public hearing in Baker were wearing green shirts in support of the company, Louisiana Land Acquisitions, opening an industrial waste landfill along Brooklawn Road near the community of Alsen in north Baton Rouge.
Honoré said the people wearing the green shirts should be ashamed of showing support for another landfill in the north Baton Rouge area.
“You’ve been fooled one time. Don’t be fooled again,” he said.
Broome also expressed opposition to the landfill, saying the need for a new landfill hasn’t been demonstrated, so why does it need to be done now and in this location.
“Why are landfills and hazardous waste sites always put into a community of color?” Broome said. “This is not an accident.”
Holden said he continues to oppose the landfill application — as he did during a previous attempt by the company in 2008 — as another problem the area doesn’t need.
“It’s not just Alsen. It impacts this whole area,” Holden said. “This area has been inundated with problems. We’ve got areas that people used to hunt and fish. People can’t hunt and fish there anymore because of contamination.”
However, as it became clear that residents in Alsen were sharply divided over whether the landfill permit application should be approved, Holden asked the audience to remember that they are neighbors.
“All of us deserve better than to be sitting here tonight, fighting each other over someone else’s waste,” Holden said.
Accusations were made that some people had been bought off by the company.
The company had promised certain community organizations funding for various community projects if they get the permit application approved.
Supporters say they’re already surrounded by industry and contamination, but this company has offered to help.
“The problems in Alsen, LLA (Louisiana Land Acquisitions) did not bring them,” said Sharon Baptiste, an Alsen resident who supports the landfill permit application.
People speaking in opposition to the landfill said that accepting the donations in exchange for support is selling off the future for a little bit of money, and it’s not worth it.
It is the company’s third attempt in more than 15 years to get the site a permit to operate as a solid waste landfill. A pit has been in place at the site since the late 1980s.
The proposed site was built in anticipation of accepting hazardous waste from the nearby Petro-Processors of Louisiana, a Superfund site where hazardous waste from 10 industrial customers had been dumped in open pits for years.
However, before the pit could be used, the agreement to clean up the Superfund site was changed and the landfill pit was no longer needed.
Since then, the pit has been empty and the plastic liner has been ripped up. The pit has been partially filled with rainwater.
The pit is across the road from the Petro-Processors of Louisiana, and next to a lead recycler with its own landfill areas, and a facility that creates calcined petroleum coke used in making aluminum.
Louisiana Land Acquisitions, under a slightly different name, first filed a permit application for the landfill in 1997, but it was denied by the state Department of Environmental Quality in 2000 because the department found that the application was technically deficient.
The company filed a permit application again in 2008, but was denied because DEQ determined there was already enough capacity in the current industrial waste landfills in nearby parishes.
The company sued and the case was eventually remanded back to the lower courts for a trial by the state Supreme Court. Before that trial occurred, the company asked for a chance to resubmit its application.
The current permit includes changes to the proposed landfill’s service area in hopes of addressing the question of capacity.
Public comment on the permit application will be accepted by DEQ until 4:30 p.m. Sept. 30.