Sasol explains wetlands mitigation plan

Sasol explains wetlands mitigation plan

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - You've heard a lot about the multi-billion dollar expansion projects planned at Sasol. But what about the environmental impact?

A public meeting focused on that tonight.

Tonight's open house and public meeting focused on the impact the projects will have on the Calcasieu Watershed wetlands.

However, one group of Mossville residents wanted their concerns heard.

Mike Thomas, Vice President of U.S. Operations at Sasol, says, "It's the biggest project to be built in the state of Louisiana and likely one of the biggest projects in the United States."

Thomas is speaking about Sasol's planned mega-projects. One is a gas-to-liquids plant, "which will take natural gas and through a process convert it to products like diesel fuel. The other project is our ethane cracker and ethylene derivatives project which will make ethylene and convert that to other downstream products like polyethylene and soaps and detergents," said Thomas.

And with any large-scale project, they'll need a wetlands permit, which requires they have a mitigation plan. That plan was presented tonight.

"We actually replace those wetlands with quite a bit more wetlands than we disturb. We're actually increasing the amount of wetlands in Louisiana by over a thousand acres," explained Thomas.

He says tonight's open house is part of the permitting process and they hope to get public input.

They did.

Joe Dupont says he came out, "because the property they bought for mitigation is adjacent to mine. And I came to find out what exactly is going on, see what they're going to do out there and I got some good answers from the Sasol people and I'm real pleased at what's going to happen."

While most people say they wanted to get more information at tonight's meeting, one group of residents brought their concerns.

Mossville residents, a historically all-African American community, say they want to be compensated not just for their property, but also for their heritage.

Larry Payne says, "this is supposed to be a voluntary buy-out, but we feel as if we're being forced out."

Sasol officials, however, said tonight's meeting was about the wetlands permit and moved on.

The Chamber of Commerce also attended Wednesday and said they hope the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves Sasol's wetlands permit.

To view the entire mitigation plan: http://www.sasollouisianaprojects.com