AMITE — Tangipahoa Parish will not have to pay any fines or penalties over the millions of pounds of shredded tire material at the parish landfill, under an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Parish President Gordon Burgess and members of the Parish Council signed a consent agreement with DEQ settling the issue at the council’s final meeting of the year Monday.
Under the agreement, the parish will have to pay $6,572 to DEQ to cover the cost of the agency’s investigation. The parish also agreed to a conduct a Household Hazardous Waste Cleanup for all residents of the parish at a cost of $10,500. Finally, the parish will work with DEQ to devise a plan to put the tires to good use.
Shredded tires can be used, under DEQ permission and guidelines, for road and other construction projects.
Beau Brock, the Baton Rouge attorney the council hired in June to negotiate a settlement with DEQ, said details of the household hazardous cleanup will be worked out by the council. The parish will have 30 days to submit a plan to DEQ on how to properly use the material now stored at the landfill.
The agreement ends a monthslong dispute over the shredded tires. In June, DEQ alleged the parish improperly acquired more of the shredded tires than allowed under the original permit and misused the material in construction of a firing range at the landfill. DEQ also charged the parish with storing the materials in an unauthorized manner. The parish faced fines of thousands of dollars a day.
In presenting the DEQ settlement to the council, Brock praised Burgess and the council members for their patience and cooperation during the long months of deliberations. “Mr. Burgess didn’t tell me what to do. … He told me to do what I had to do and he stepped out of the way,” Brock said. “The settlement is a good one and the parish is better off for having gone through the process.”
Burgess, who will leave office when the new parish president and the new council are sworn into office on Jan. 11, said he is glad the matter was resolved before his tenure was over. Burgess was first elected parish president in 1986 when voters approved the Home Rule Charter to replace the old police jury system. He chose not to seek re-election this year. Robby Miller was elected to replace him.
Only six of the 10 council members were present Monday. Three of the absent councilmen, Nicky Muscarello, Ronnie Bankston and Greg Varnado, lost their council seats in fall elections. Carlo Bruno was the other absent councilman.