Company blamed for black dust ordered to stop operations - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Company blamed for black dust ordered to stop operations


The local industrial company blamed for black dust in a Lake Charles neighborhood appealed to the Lake Charles City Council Wednesday night.

Officials were asking for an exception to operate in two buildings on their property off Industrial Drive. This comes after the Lake Charles Planning and Zoning Board unanimously denied the requests last month.

Residents living behind the facility on North General Wainwright have been complaining about black dust coming from the plant since November. The dust is released during a process of repackaging petro coke.

Officials with Industrial Carbon Services told the Lake Charles City Council they've addressed the black dust problem and want to use two of three warehouses on their property for storage.

"We would amend our original request so that the only activity taking place in both of those warehouses would be the storage and warehousing of packaged and sealed materials," said Tom Gayle, attorney for Industrial Carbon Services.  

According to Gayle, a third building on the property now has upgrades to contain the dust. He said that building, which they refer to as Warehouse C, now houses the company's packaging process and has a vacuum and filter system to prevent any dust from escaping. However, the company is only permitted to use the building as a warehouse.

While some experts say petro coke is not hazardous, others say they're not so sure.

"The only thing they will tell you is that it won't cause cancer and it won't cause pneumonia. But it will make your eyes irritated and it will irritate your skin ... You will have upper respiratory illnesses," said Luvertha August, Lake Charles City Council.

Residents near the site agree.

"My asthma is acting up. It's outrageous - it's off the wall," said Laura White, a concerned resident.

"We don't have a buffer zone ... So to speak, because we are right next door to it and I have not seen any kind of abatement system," said Alfred Caesar, concerned resident.

Resident Carrie Withers showed the council a video she took on Wednesday of black dust escaping one of the warehouses.

"Don't let them continue to rain this dust down upon us. It's not good for the neighborhood ... They came in and they started operations. Nobody in the neighborhood knew that they were there," said Withers.

"The video that is showing the dust coming out of it - that is the old building with the old dryers still in operation which we are trying to shut down and move out of there. The new building does not have that problem," said Phillip Guzzino, property owner.

Councilman Marshall Simien said he doesn't have a problem with the warehousing of the packaged product as long as the company stops processing of petro coke on the property until they get the proper permits.

"Based on the video that I saw, based on the past history I've seen ... I'm saying you have not demonstrated to my satisfaction that this activity is going to stop or that the people are not going to be impacted," said Simien.

The majority of the council agreed and ordered Industrial Carbon Services to stop operations.

The city plans to begin enforcing the ordinance on Thursday morning but anticipate the attorney for the company and property owner to file an injunction. That means this issue will likely end up in court.

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