Sasol responds to environmental concerns about mega expansion - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Sasol responds to environmental concerns about mega expansion

Anyone who wants to have a say on proposed permits for the mega Sasol development has this weekend and Monday to look at the paperwork containing the details.

A local environmentalist worries about pollution from the chemical complex, while a Sasol spokesman says it will be safe and protect the people and the environment.

Even a scientist might find the number of documents and massive amount of information intimidating.  It's the proposed permits, permit applications and related information available for public inspection.

Long time environmentalist Mike Tritico expressed frustration at how little progress he's made wading through the thousands of pages.

"It's  just a matter of having to go through all this page, by page, by page," he says, holding up a stack of documents several inches thick. "Because if you decide you're going to skip a 2 or 3 inch section, you might miss the key thing for the stack."

Yet Sasol spokesman Mike Hayes says they paid extra for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to take up all of the 17 or so proposed permits at once instead of piecemeal.

"These are permit applications for all of the projects that Sasol wishes to construct on the plant site.  We submitted all the permit applications together so they could all be considered at one time," said Hayes. He says the expedited permit process and considering all permits together allows people to get a better idea of the overall impact of the project.

Tritico warns of the pollution.

"This project is so huge that it will emit more greenhouse gases, more acid rain, more toxic air pollutants than anything we've seen in Calcasieu Parish so far," said Tritico.

Hayes' response:  "We believe these permits are protective of both the people and the environment."

Hayes says he lives a mile from the plant in Westlake and plans to stay there.

"As a resident who lives near the plant, it's Sasol's objective and my objective to do what we can for the benefit of the community. We hope the citizens of Southwest Louisiana will support us," said Hayes. "We want communities here that people want to come to and live in.  And, oh, by the way, they have jobs."

Yet Hayes says, it can't happen unless permits are approved.

Reporter:  "So what happens if you don't get the permit?"  Hayes:  "We don't get a project."

The permit documents are at the public libraries in Westlake and Sulphur where people can look at proposed permits and related documents.

The Sasol public hearing is at 6 PM, Tuesday, March 25 at the Westlake City Hall on Mulberry Street.

At 4 PM that same day Retired General Russel Honore and what's called "The Green Army" will gather with residents for a town hall meeting. It's at the Rigmaiden Center on Old Spanish Trail in Mossville.

Copyright 2014 KPLC All rights reserved

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