Citizens voice concerns about PPG remediation

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Contaminated fish, drinking water and cancer. They are all concerns raised tonight at a public hearing dealing with PPG Industries and pollution that may never be fully cleaned up. State environmental officials will decide how contamination will be dealt with down the road.

For decades state environmental officials have been overseeing the efforts of PPG to clean up chemical contamination stemming from operations over many years. Now the company seeks a permit for final corrective actions. PPG Works Manager Jon Manns gave a recap of twenty years of remedial efforts. "Some of the voluntary projects that have been implemented over the years have involved the complete removal of contamination. Others provide for the on-site containment of contamination through actions such as groundwater pumping. Some involve the installation of protective barriers to eliminate exposure."

However residents and environmentalists who attended a public hearing have many concerns. Says resident Harold Areno, "PPG has put PCB's in the bayou and has contaminated the fish."

Resident Erinika Jackson says, "If we can't do anything about it you guys will persist to poison our water."

Environmentalist Paul Ringo says the company admits it's technically impractical to clean up contamination.  He says the company should not be allowed to leave it.  "Basically what this is doing is allowing is the fox to tell the chicken, to decide how many chickens they're going to eat every night and the chickens got no say so about it and nobody's watching over the foxes and saying, 'No, you can't '"

PPG project manager Mike Huber says they will not leave a lingering pollution problem. "Every one of those remedies that we've proposed, meets all the strict environmental, regulatory requirements for ensuring there is no offsite migration. Everything on our site is contained within our fence line and there is no harm to the public or the environment."

Yet, some worry about the future for their children and grandchildren.  Laura Cox lives in Austin but has relatives in Southwest Louisiana.  "This issue is not going to go away. The DEQ needs to protect the health and welfare of the children in this area."

Once finalized the PPG permit will spell out what the company must do in the coming years to continue corrective action. PPG's renewal permit application is multiple volumes and can be found at public libraries in Westlake and Sulphur. People have until half past noon on Monday to submit written comments to Louisiana DEQ on the issue.

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