No waste at proposed Alsen landfill until after court fight, company pledges

Louisiana Land Acquisitions LLC won’t accept any waste at a planned landfill near the community of Alsen in north Baton Rouge until a legal challenge to its approved state permit is resolved, a company attorney assured a judge Monday.

“No waste will be received while this matter is pending,” Louisiana Land Acquisitions lawyer Tim Hardy told state District Judge Mike Caldwell during a hearing on a pair of lawsuits filed against the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

“I think that protects the public interest,” the judge said in reference to the company’s written stipulation that no waste will be accepted at the planned industrial waste landfill along Brooklawn Road until the judiciary gives it the green light.

A temporary stay that Caldwell issued in the case last month is no longer in effect.

Hardy told the judge that even if construction started Monday, no waste would be received at the landfill for at least a year — giving the courts ample time to issue a final decision in the case.

The landfill in question was approved April 4 by DEQ to take in industrial waste over the objections of Metro Council members, Mayor-President Kip Holden and other elected officials as well as a number of residents of nearby Alsen. Some Alsen residents were in favor of the permit approval, primarily because of company promises of financial donations to community programs.

Both the city-parish and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network filed suit in May.

Caldwell dismissed the city-parish suit Monday, agreeing with attorneys for the company and DEQ that the city-parish failed to formally raise its issues with DEQ while the agency was considering the permit application.

Daria Diaz, a lawyer representing the city-parish, said after the hearing that she would have to consult with her client before making any decision on a possible appeal of the judge’s ruling.

Holden and Metro Councilman Trae Welch both spoke against the landfill at an August public hearing held by DEQ in Baker.

Louisiana Land Acquisitions first applied for a landfill permit in 1997 under a slightly different name, but that was denied in 2000 after DEQ found the application to be technically deficient. The company applied for a new permit in 2008, but that too was denied because DEQ found there was already enough capacity in existing industrial waste landfills nearby.

The company sued, but before the case went to trial, the firm asked for a chance to resubmit its application. The next permit application was similar but narrowed the potential service area for the landfill to address the previous concern about overcapacity.

Part of the argument in the city-parish suit was that DEQ didn’t have the authority to issue the permit because a previous permit that had been denied was still under review by the court.

But Caldwell said Monday that the state agency had a mandatory duty to review the 2013 application.

The permit submitted last year reduced the landfill’s planned service area, which was cited as a main reason for the permit approval.

Years ago, a pit was constructed at the site of the landfill to handle hazardous waste from the Petro-Processors of Louisiana Superfund site across the road, but plans changed and the pit has sat empty for years. The pit is next to a lead recycler with its own landfill areas and a facility that creates calcined petroleum coke used in making aluminum.