Black dust company denied special zoning exceptions - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Black dust company denied special zoning exceptions

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

After operating for years without the correct permits, Industrial Carbon Services was asking for forgiveness.

"Whatever happened in the past happened in the past. Tonight we are talking about what is going on right now," said Tom Gayle, attorney for Industrial Carbon Services.

Industrial Carbon Services is located off Industrial Drive. According to Gayle, Industrial Carbon Services recycles, recaptures, reuses and resells petroleum coke. While they acknowledged the bagging process generates black dust which has escaped into the nearby neighborhood off North General Wainwright Drive, they said it's no longer a problem. The company said they have moved that part of the process inside a building on the west side of the property.

"It is enclosed. It is enclosed in a building. It has a vacuum system and it is capturing the material that might be escaping during the process," explained Gayle.

Before moving the bagging process indoors, the process was done in two other buildings on the property. They're now asking the Lake Charles Planning and Zoning Board for a special exception to allow them to use those two other buildings to warehouse and dry the material.

"It's a rotary dryer which is used for the drying of the material, which is also attached to dust collection material," said Kim Barnes, Industrial Carbon Services' vice president.

The company claims during the roughly two weeks of operating in the upgraded facility, a qualified environmentalist, which they paid, collected samples, ran tests and determined there is no offsite impact. Residents aren't buying it.

"We're getting the black dust in our attics, our homes. We're getting them in our window units, our central units. And then you ask about people with sinus problems ... we're getting a lot of sinus problems," said Alfred Caesar, a concerned resident.

"There's an old saying ... what's done in the dark is going to come to the light. And now Industrial Carbon has found themselves under a big light," said Carrie Withers, a concerned resident.

The Planning and Zoning Board was also told after DEQ's investigation that enforcement action was necessary.

Having heard the evidence and arguments, the board unanimously voted against any special exceptions.

"It's a big victory. I'm so happy. I'm so relieved. Like I said, we still have another few steps to go. Hopefully, we are going to get to that door," said Withers.

Industrial Carbon Services has 15 days to appeal the Zoning Board's decision. They'll then have to go before the Lake Charles City Council on June 5.

Industrial Carbon Services is currently operating in the upgraded building with a certificate of occupancy issued by the City of Lake Charles. According to City Administer John Cardone, they are only authorized to use the building as a warehouse and will have to answer questions about the expanded operations.

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