Mayor, council oppose permit for EBR landfill

Sixteen years after Louisiana Land Systems Inc. first filed a request to operate a landfill at a site in north Baton Rouge, the company is taking another stab at obtaining a state permit.

But it finds itself once again facing opposition.

The East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council went on record on Wednesday with a resolution opposing a permit for the proposed industrial solid waste landfill, which would be located northwest of Alsen.

And Mayor-President Kip Holden reiterated his staunch opposition.

“We’re talking about life and death,” Holden said, noting that the liners used for the landfills are not guaranteed to prevent leaks of hazardous materials. “To say this is nonhazardous is absolutely incorrect.”

The permit application will get a required public hearing at 6 p.m. July 18 at the Greenwood Community Park Recreation Center, 13550 La. 19, Baker.

The first attempt to get a permit for a Type I industrial solid waste landfill on the site, filed in 1997, was denied in 2000 because it was determined to be technically deficient, said Sam Phillips, assistant secretary with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The company, renamed Louisiana Land Acquisitions LLC, filed another permit request in 2008.

The company enjoyed support at that time from some community members in north Baton Rouge, largely because of promises to provide money for an after-school tutorial program and a children’s summer program, as well as money toward building a new community center and a senior food program.

However, not all residents were in favor of the landfill proposal and Holden voiced his opposition to the permit and the landfill during a public hearing in August 2008.

The 2008 permit application request was also denied on grounds that there are already enough industrial solid waste landfill capacity in the area, Phillips said.

The company appealed the decision and the case eventually went to the Louisiana Supreme Court which remanded the case back to the lower court for trial, Phillips said.

However, before a trial could be held, company officials said they wanted to make some revisions to their application, add some information and resubmit the permit request.

The company turned in their third, and most recent, permit application to DEQ in March for the 92-acre site that includes a disposal area of 26 acres.

Most of the permit application is similar to the one the company filed in 2008, but some changes were made to help satisfy objections raised previously by DEQ.

Changes in the newest permit include modifications of the area from which the landfill will accept waste so there isn’t an overlap with other industrial waste landfills in the area, Phillips said.

Company officials have disputed DEQ’s contention that there is sufficient capacity locally for industrial solid waste, noting that DEQ based that in part on the fact that the North Landfill, run by the city-parish, is permitted to accept such waste.

The company noted that the December 2008 rules of operation for the North Landfill state the landfill won’t accept a number of items including industrial solid waste.

Interim Department of Public Works Director David Guillory said although the landfill has never taken industrial waste, it is still permitted to do so and it’s something the city-parish has considered doing from time to time as a way to generate additional revenue.

Guillory said another concern about the proposed landfill is that the permit application says the landfill will take in commercial waste, which would put it in competition with the city-parish landfill, located just north of the proposed site.

Louisiana Land Acquisitions attorney Tim Hardy said that isn’t true and that in this context, the words “commercial waste” only means waste from outside the landfill, not waste from businesses such as restaurants.

As a Type I landfill, Hardy said, the company can only accept industrial solid waste.

“We can’t take commercial waste,” he said.

In addition, the company asserts in its still pending court case that the previous permit was wrongfully denied by DEQ and that there isn’t an over-abundance of industrial waste landfill capacity locally.

“There is no facility in East Baton Rouge that currently takes industrial solid waste,” Hardy said.

Although no decision has been made yet on the issue of landfill capacity, the 2008 memo about the North Landfill and other considerations were enough of a change for DEQ to consider the permit and move it forward to the comment period, Phillips said.

A 30-day public comment period will be open after the public hearing on July 18.

Advocate staff writer
Rebekah Allen contributed to this story.