General Honore and the "Green Army" coming for Sasol hearing

Published: Mar. 20, 2014 at 12:50 AM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2014 at 11:47 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - General Russel Honoré and the Green Army are coming to SWLA next Tuesday to hold a town hall meeting a couple of hours before the Sasol public hearing.  He says in day or so they will announce location and time.

"We will do a town meeting and the public will be invited. Hopefully some of the people affected will focus on offers being made for their homes. We will propose for company to focus on replacement value as opposed to current value of the homes," said Honoré.

He said he has been contacted by people here asking for his help.

"Big issue is poor people on fixed income. If you owned a quarter million dollar house, you're getting your replacement value.  But if you're in a $70 000 house,  not getting money to replace your home," said Honoré. He says another issue is how the vulnerable population, including elderly, are being affected.

"We want people in Lake Charles to know, while this is a big deal for the area, it's coming at a cost.  Emissions are going to be enormous and if you live downwind of that plant you need to start looking at how you're going to be protected. This technology has not been used in this country before," said Honoré.

Honoré said he and other will call for the latest in early warning technology.

"Green Army will insist there be a black box in the plant so if there's an explosion can find out.  before during and after.  From what we learned from BP these CEOs get in their jet and go back home but people have to live with it and the state laws don't protect people," he said.

"We want a system for reverse 911 which means when alarm goes off that exceeds EPA standards, everybody gets a phone call that there's an accident at the plant. We want a 21st century system and we want health monitoring for the people around all these plants, a system set up to monitor the health of the people around these plants,"said Honoré.

"The replacement value for the people's homes, company should consider what would it cost to build that home in a comparable neighborhood, the price per square foot. If you live in a quarter million house you get replacement value.  If you live in $70,000 you don't.  So may have to take out loans to build a new house.  People will be inconvenienced and lose money or go in a neighborhood with value even cheaper,"said Honoré.

Honoré says he absolutely thinks the Sasol project should go forward, but wants to see the public more aware of the impacts.

"This plant will have a significant impact on drinking water in LC.  Will use 5 million gallons a day which means it's discharging an equivalent amount into the surface water, going into that river.  How much and what's in it.  I think they had to get an exception for this quantity of discharge.  It's five million gallons coming out of aquifer," said Honoré.

He expresses concern about whether it could deplete the aquifer.

However, Sasol Manager of Public Affairs, Mike Hayes, says he'd like to sit down and discuss the project and buy out with Honoré.

"I would love to sit down and talk with General Honoré and give him the facts of the situation and I think he will be pleased and excited," said Hayes.

Hayes says when General Honoré understands how they are approaching the project and what they will do from an environmental standpoint, that he will be pleased and excited.

"We do not intent to use groundwater for our water source, we intend to Sabine River water which is renewable resource and ultimately we will reduce our use of underground water from aquifers,"said Hayes.

Hayes says they are determined to do the right thing, all the way around.

"We have approached this project from standpoint that we don't want a tradeoff of economic development and environmental standards.  We've being environmentally  protective," said Hayes.

He says the property purchase program is the most generous property purchase program that has been implemented in the U.S. and that when they encounter issues they always default to the property owner.

"If we have an issue not covered by the program we work out a solution advantageous for the property owner.  We always make the solution advantageous to the property owner,"said Hayes.

For example he said they have found people living on inherited property where there may be several homes. In such cases, he said they treat all owners the same rather than subdividing the property. He said they work to make sure each property owner maximizes the value of the property in "the most generous program ever."

"We are giving the property owners the appraisal value or if appraises for less than $100,000 they get $100,000 plus 60% of the appraisal value," said Hayes.

He gives the following example.

"So, if you have a $50,000 property you get $100,000 plus 60% of 50,000, so Sasol's initial offer is $130,000.  Plus, you get a number of other added such as $5000 legal allowance (to clear title to the land if needed), $15,000 miscellaneous express allowance.  He says they pay property owners to clear the land and then provide a $15,000 clear site bonus.  The point is we have provided a very generous offer… It's a very generous program and we're offering people the opportunity to move.  What we're not offering people is the opportunity to move and retire, "said Honoré.

Still, Honoré says people need to be better informed about the effect of the project.

"Everybody recognizes there's going to be a big economic boom but need to consider the impact on drinking water, people that might be affected..... where will they go if need to evacuate.  This plant will be so big and so will potential for pollution.  The average people don't know that," said Honoré.

On Tuesday, Honoré says he "Expects to bring a dozen or so people for the town hall meeting.  He says people of Lake Charles need to demand from politicians to know, what is the environmental impact of this plant.

He says, "People of the community need to know there will be an impact on the water.  People need to know the chemical impact into the air and water.  Those are basic questions.  If you live down wind or if you live down air or down water you will be affected."

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