Candidate raising stink over sewage

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 7, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / August 7, 1999

LAPLACE – A parish presidential candidate is attempting to raise a stink about wastewater imported to St. John the Baptist Parish for treatment.Michael “Coach” Maggiore, said “sewage” is being brought in from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and he claims it is from the casinos. He has calledon the public to denounce the practice and has urged an investigation.

But parish Utilities Director Sammy Accardo said the situation is quite different than portrayed.

It all began last spring, he said, when the Port of South Louisiana’s Globalplex wastewater treatment pond had new aerators installed without first dredging the ponds. This resulted in a clogged backup which sentnoxious odors throughout the neighboring Dutch Bayou/Star Terrace areas of Reserve.

For some time, the port administration attempted to deal with the problem with dredging, cleaning and installing new aerators, but as time went by neighbors grew more sickened by the odor and less patient with the apparent lack of progress.

Meanwhile, A3M Vacuum Service of Reserve had been bringing leachate wastewater in BFI tank trucks from two out-of-state landfills to the ponds for treatment. A3M was not allowed back in at the port’s facilitywhile cleanup was in progress.

Leachate, Accardo explained, is defined as rainwater which has filtered through a landfill, been caught up and pumped out from beneath it to avoid contamination of the area groundwater. The water is then transported tomunicipal sewage plants for treatment.

Mike Curtis of Curtis Environmental Services in LaPlace added this activity is encouraged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. ALouisiana Department of Environmental Quality spokesman, Chris Piehler, confirmed that an extension of that treatment activity was approved as recently as July 19. Any changes of what wastewater is accepted at asewer plant must be approved by DEQ, Piehler added.

Accardo said the leachate was accepted in early summer at the River Road Treatment Plant on West Second Street, LaPlace, while the port sorted out the pond itself and is currently dealing with lawsuits filed by neighbors.

“We stepped in to help out,” Accardo said.

Bubba Hachet, inspections and operations manager of the River Road Treatment Plant, said the volume varies but anywhere from five to 10 trucks, each with 4,000 gallons of leachate, are accepted at the plant, which is running at near-capacity.

Maggiore has also charged the Garyville treatment plant is being prepared to also accept the “sewage.”Accardo explained the Garyville treatment plant has applied to DEQ to set up a drop-off station, with the intention of moving that leachate treatment program from LaPlace to Garyville.

The Garyville plant is operating at less than 5 percent of its capacity, Accardo continued, at only 40,000 gallons per day at a plant capable of treating 900,000 gallons per day. At Garyville, the plan is for a tank toaccept the leachate more efficiently to avoid having trucks backed up at the plant, besides making more efficient use of the plant.

The utilities director noted that the leachate has a “minimal effect” on the plant’s equipment, as it is more pure than the sewage accepted now from the community.

Besides, he said, the leachate is actually beneficial, as the oxygen in the leachate helps support the bacteria used at the plant to break down sewage solids.

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