With concerns now being voiced by the LSU President and the Mayor-President of Baton Rouge, the state Department of Environmental Quality has decided to postpone a public hearing and extend public comment on a proposed barge cleaning facility along River Road.
The public hearing will now be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 in the Oliver Pollock Room in the Galvez Building at 602 N 5th St. The public comment has been extended to Aug. 31.
Requests to postpone the public hearing set for next week and give additional comment time began Tuesday during a public meeting set up by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and LSU Superfund Research Center Community Engagement Core.
LSU’s president and Mayor-President Kip Holden have called on the state Department of Environmental Quality to grant more time for public comment on a proposed barge-cleaning facility along River Road.
No decision was made Thursday, but DEQ spokesman Greg Langley said the requested delay is under review and could be decided Friday. The public comment period is set to end by 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 16.
Requests to postpone a public hearing set for next week and give more time to comment began Tuesday during a public meeting set up by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and LSU Superfund Research Center Community Engagement Core.
“The number of entities and people that could be impacted both health-wise and economically is astronomical,” Holden wrote. “Granting a permit to this company has dire consequences, many of them not known at this time.”
Holden asked that the public hearing be pushed back for 30 to 60 days to allow more time to gather information.
LSU President F. King Alexander joined in the growing chorus Thursday, saying LSU opposes the permit.
“The proposed site is very close to the residences of hundreds of our faculty, staff and students, as well as the athletic and intramural venues that host thousands,” Alexander wrote in a statement. “Our concern is the potential for possible toxic releases from the facility, which could pose a serious health risk to the LSU community.”
Tubal-Cain Marine Service applied for a permit last year to build and operate a barge-cleaning facility on the river side of the Mississippi River levee near the Farr Park Equestrian Center. Although the facility would release air pollution, it would be at a low enough level to classify the facility as a “minor source.”
A lawyer representing a nearby landowner alerted residents to the proposed permit. Residents, BREC representatives, the LSU Faculty Senate and others made comments or asked for more information from DEQ.
According to the permit application, the facility would bring in barges to a docking area and pump out remaining liquid to temporary storage tanks. Fumes from the barges would be sent to an enclosed flare.
The facility expects to annually release 10 tons of nitrogen oxide, 49 tons of carbon monoxide and 15 tons of volatile organic compounds.
As of Thursday evening, the DEQ public hearing is set to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Oliver Pollock room of the Galvez Building, 602 N. Fifth St., Baton Rouge.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.