Tank farm causing stir among local residents

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 1, 2007


Staff Reporter

GARYVILLE – Garyville community members gathered Tuesday night to protest Safeland Storage’s building of a tank field in the Garyville Mount Airy area.

Forty-three people spoke at the public hearing, including citizens living within two miles of the building site, those who work two miles from the site and citizens of St. John Parish.

Safeland is proposing a full service marine and land storage facility that will be called the Angelina Tank Farm. The facility will hold gasoline, light crude oil, heavy crude oil, ethanol, light petroleum, distillates, mid petroleum distillates, heavy residual oils, vegetable oil and bio diesel.

Of the 43 people who spoke at the open forum, only 17 were opposed to the building of the tank field. Some of their reasons for not wanting the facility built included pollution issues, oil spills, property tax issues, inconsistency of Safeland’s proposal and a question of St. John Parish zoning laws.

According to President of Safeland Storage and life-long resident of South Louisiana Paul Beaullieu, Safeland’s law firm, Jones Walker Law Firm has done extensive research to make sure the building of this facility complies with all state and parish laws.

Other community members like Elexia Henderson said Safeland made false claims about properly informing the public about the building of the facility.

&#8220Page four [of the Safeland proposal] says that significant steps were taken to inform the public and that strong support was shown by the public. That is false,” said Henderson. &#8220The public does not show strong support. The public was not informed.”

Brunette Burl of Mount Airy was strongly opposed to the idea of another facility in the predominantly black area of Mount Airy saying the pollution from Marathon was too much already and &#8220big corporations” don’t care about the people as long as they get what they want.

&#8220It’s so much easier to put it [the tank farm] on a black community,” said Burl. &#8220Put it in LaPlace. Put it in Paulina. Put it in Alabama. You get the jobs; we get the pollution.”

Beaullieu disagrees and said he wants to hire from within the community and strongly promotes the building and development of South Louisiana.

&#8220We want the public to know exactly what’s happening and what we’re doing here,” said Beaullieu. &#8220We want to hire local, qualified people. We don’t want to be good neighbors; we want to be great neighbors.”

He also said it wasn’t a requirement to have the public hearing, but Safeland wanted to hear the opinions and concerns of the community.

Others opposed to the facility said they were concerned about another Murphy Oil incident that wiped out the St. Bernard area after Hurricane Katrina, saying no one can predict the weather and that there is no guarantee that an oil spill like the one with Murphy Oil won’t happen again.

Beaullieu said the facility, if built, would meet, if not exceed, all regulatory requirements and air quality standards. He also said neighborhoods would not be affected by the plant’s traffic. The main entrances to the facility would be located off of Airline Highway and River Road, according to Safeland.

Some of the reasons in support of the construction were to build the economy of Southeast Louisiana, to develop industry and keep businesses from moving out of state and to create jobs for members of the community.

&#8220We [Safeland] are from Louisiana,” said Beaullieu. &#8220This is where we’re from, and we want to promote the building of South Louisiana.”