Opponents of a proposed landfill in north Baton Rouge lost another battle Tuesday when the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal on Tuesday upheld a district court decision on a state Department of Environmental Quality permit approval for the facility.
The city-parish had appealed a district court which rejected challenges to DEQ’s permit approval for non-hazardous industrial solid waste. It’s unclear if the city-parish will move forward with any additional court action.
“We haven’t had an opportunity to talk to the city-parish yet about the next steps,” said Daria Diaz, attorney with Stone, Pigman, Walther Wittmann.
At issue is a permit Louisiana Land Acquisitions received from DEQ on April 4, 2014, to build and operate an industrial waste landfill on 93 acres along Brooklawn Drive.
“We were pleased with the decision in every aspect on every issue,” said Timothy Hardy, attorney representing Louisiana Land Acquisitions. “We thought we put together a very good application.”
DEQ had no comment on the decision.
The company had previously applied for a permit in 2006, but was denied in 2009 by DEQ which claimed at the time there was adequate capacity and a new landfill was not needed. The company appealed that decision, which is still pending in court.
The company reapplied for a permit in March 2013 with a slightly altered service area which took out several of the landfills DEQ had counted in its previous capacity decision. It is the 2013 permit that was the subject of the 1st Circuit ruling on Tuesday.
DEQ approved this permit which was challenged the city-parish and Louisiana Environmental Action Network. The Metro Council formally opposed the landfill in 2013 with a resolution and Mayor-President Kip Holden has been a vocal opponent of the proposed facility.
The city-parish and LEAN both claim DEQ lacks the authority to grant the permit because the 2006 permit is still going through the legal process. In addition, the city-parish said DEQ didn’t consider the existing permitted capacity, DEQ’s record didn’t document the zoning in the area, and there are technical problems with the permit application.
DEQ and Louisiana Land Acquisitions argued that the challenges should be thrown out because the issues were not raised before the final permit was issued.
State District Judge Michael Caldwell agreed with DEQ and the company and dismissed the legal challenges.
A pit already exists at the site which is in an industrial area to the west of Scenic Highway. The area already includes a Superfund site and a closed battery recycling operation. The pit was originally dug in the late 1980s as part of a plan to cleanup the nearby Superfund Petro-Processors area, a portion of which is on Brooklawn Road.
When plans for that cleanup process changed to exclude the need for a landfill, the pit remained empty.
Over the years, the original lining has torn apart and the pit has partially filled with water, which will all need to be fixed before the landfill starts operating.
The company is doing required groundwater monitoring, but no other construction is taking place, Hardy said. The company had agreed in district court to accept no waste until all of the appeals are finished.
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.