CONVENT — St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel said Wednesday the parish’s permitting office will issue a notice of violation and a stop-work order to Petroplex International on Thursday effectively halting all construction at the Vacherie crude oil storage tank site.
Roussel told the Parish Council on Wednesday that he and other parish officials plan to meet with Petroplex representatives Thursday afternoon at the corporation’s request.
The $800 million tank farm could ultimately have 10 million barrels of storage capacity to handle and blend crude oil, including heavy Canadian and shale oil, as well as gasoline, other petroleum products, vegetable oil and biodiesel.
Roussel said after Wednesday’s meeting the parish government disagrees with Petroplex officials on how construction at the liquid storage tank farm site has progressed and whether the corporation has complied with a parish resolution dictating the project’s time frame.
“We’ve been monitoring progress and we just don’t agree with their statement of it being a valid start of construction,” Roussel said. “So, we’re going to challenge them.”
At a council meeting last month, the Parish Council and Parish Attorney Victor Franckiewicz concluded Petroplex had not erected a permanent facility by July 31, the date set forth in a special resolution allowing the tank project to advance after the parish’s planning commission had voted against it.
That deadline was moved to Oct. 31 by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, but parish officials and Franckiewicz accused Petroplex of merely pushing dirt around at the work site.
Corne van de Reijt, a representative with Verwater Group, the company heading construction at the site, told the council last month that site construction began July 28 with the removal of topsoil and sugar cane and argued the company was in full compliance with the parish’s special resolution.
But, Roussel said Wednesday the only new construction he has seen at the site is higher piles of dirt and that Petroplex still has not formally submitted additional plans for the project, as requested last month by parish officials.
In other business, the Parish Council approved an ordinance adopting the $61.6 million proposed budget for fiscal year 2015, which begins Jan. 1.
Parish Council Chairman Charles Ketchens said he wants to revisit in January the issue of raising the part-time pay of the parish’s seven justices of the peace and seven constables.
Ketchens has previously said he doesn’t think the raise included in the proposed budget is enough money.
St. James Parish justices of the peace are currently paid $450 per month and constables $400 per month.
The justices of the peace and constables will split an extra $100 per month per JP district under the adopted budget.