Oil export terminal next to proposed Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion gets state’s initial OK

This map shows the proposed location of the Plaquemines Liquid Terminal, red diagonal lines and the path of the proposed Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, outlined in yellow, among other properties near Ironton in Plaquemines Parish.

Louisiana's Department of Natural Resources is making a huge mistake that will cost everyone in southeast Louisiana dearly. There’s a public hearing Thursday on the proposal to allow a massive new oil export terminal near Myrtle Grove in Plaquemines Parish; unfortunately, DNR has asked for public comment before scientific studies have been released. This is a backward way of doing the public's business.

The project is planned to be built on the parcel immediately upriver and adjoining the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion — the largest and most essential part of the state's coastal restoration plan. But DNR has not released data on the potential negative impact on the diversion.

Several years ago, a coal-processing facility was planned for the same location and project developers were required to show how their new docks would affect the proposed Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. What they admitted was that about 17% of sediment that would otherwise flow through the diversion would be lost. The diversion will cost over $1 billion to complete, so that would have been a costly loss.

The new oil terminal would accommodate some of the largest supertankers in the world. The docks and berthed ships would be larger than those previously proposed and would certainly have a greater impact. So we are left to assume we will lose far more than 17% of the sediment. But without having a study made publicly available, how can such a proposal be ready for public comment?

The only rational response is to deny any permit for the oil export terminal project. Saving south Louisiana from sinking into the Gulf of Mexico is far more important than another oil terminal. Oh, and when sea levels rise a bit higher, all the new oil storage tanks on-site will be exposed to hurricane forces that will cause massive spills. This project has so many fatal flaws, including the fact that supertankers cannot even reach the site because they require much more draft than the river provides today, even with dredging.

Stop this crazy plan and deny it all permits. What we need is to restore our coast, not contribute to its faster destruction.

ROBERT GARDINER

Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana

New Orleans

Our Views: More money needed for coast