Bayou d'Inde clean up plan criticized

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) - Concerned citizens had harsh words for Louisiana DEQ and local industry at a public hearing on cleaning up pollution in Bayou d'Inde.

It's taken years of study to conclude the best way to deal with pollution is, for the most part, to leave it where it is. The state DEQ's plan would also include covering contaminated sediments with dirt or cement in spots, and in one place where contaminated sediments would be removed,  they would be put in another part of the bayou.

The crowd on hand for the public hearing at the Lake Charles Civic Center was small but vocal. Most seem to think the plan is ridiculous. Environmentalist Paul Ringo spoke his mind saying, "It's taken seven years of their best thinking to come up with a plan that is absurd, that a five year old child could come up with. Not getting rid of it, not remediating it. Cover it up and pretend it's not there."

Concerned citizen Jill Hines agreed.  "If I have a half gallon of sour milk in my refrigerator and I have a half a gallon of good milk, I don't pour the sour milk in with my good milk, put the cap on it, shake it up and drink it. And I certainly don't feed it to my children or my grandchildren."

The four companies that will eventually have to implement the remedies are PPG, Citgo, Occidental Chemical and Westlake Polymers. No industry officials spoke at the hearing but DEQ's Tom Harris defends the plan saying they believe it will reduce contamination. "This remedy we believe and so do top scientists at EPA and NOAA as well as those at DEQ, feel that this will get us to the point we're trying to achieve to put the bayou back into service, let people be able to eat the fish, enjoy the bayou again and do so at a cost that's quite honestly the most bang for the buck."

Those who didn't go to the hearing can still send in written comments for the state to consider before a final decision. The comments must be at DEQ in Baton Rouge by 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6th.

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