Tank farm suit settled

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 6, 2008


Editor and Publisher

GARYVILLE – The last apparent roadblock to construction of a tank farm in the Garyville-Mt. Airy region has been removed.

Parties on both sides announced a settlement late Thursday in a lawsuit filed by Save Our Neighborhoods against Safeland Storage, LLC, which challenged the permits Safeland had gotten to build the tank farm on 400 acres of land just west of Garyville.

While only a few details of the agreement were released, no mention was made of the initial basis of the suit, which was challenging the permits obtained from DEQ to build the tank farm.

Attorney Geri Baloney, who filed the suit on behalf of Save Our Neighborhoods (SOS), signed an out-of-court agreement with the Angelina Tank Farm group, ending the lawsuit that had thrown a last-minute roadblock in the way of Safeland in February of this year, as they were set to begin construction months ago.

In a joint press release issued by both parties, Baloney said “whenever industry and the community can come together with an open exchange of concerns and ideas, it increases the chances for a positive outcome. My clients simply wanted to be heard in a respectable manner. That’s what happened here.”

As part of the agreement, Safeland will also drop its counter-lawsuit filed by attorney Danny Becnel against Carl Monica and Elexia Henderson, who were community leaders in the fight against the tank farm.

“We realize that Mr. Monica and Mrs. Henderson were acting on behalf of their community. They had the best interest of that area in mind and we recognize that concessions have been made to address all of those concerns,” Safeland Managing Member Paul Beaullieu said.

While both sides are now singing the praises of the other for the cooperation in obtaining the lawsuit settlement, there was no explanation of how Safeland has now convinced Save Our Neighborhoods that the permits were obtained correctly, which was the main basis of the lawsuit.

For that matter, one earlier court appearance in Baton Rouge over those matters saw the Save Our Neighborhood group lose their first challenge to the DEQ permits obtained by Safeland. There was expected to be another court appearance to challenge several other points of the permits, but that has now been dropped.

No information was released by either party of how that key matter was resolved.

Instead, both parties are now stating that the settlement details are confidential. The only terms of the agreement came from Baloney, who said that there is the assurance from Safeland that additional trees or bamboo will be planted between the tanks and the residential area to the east.

Safeland has also promised to “give preference to purchasing from local businesses and hiring qualified people from Mt. Airy and Garyville, and to build an office building on the River Road that compliments the areas history.” However those were promises already made by Safeland from the beginning of their appearance in the community.

Safeland also stated that they would implement a community advisory board, however that was also an already-agreed upon promise when they first began work here.

Safeland plans to build a $125 first phase of their tank farm, with construction expected to start as quickly as possible now that the lawsuit is settled.

With Safeland now putting their last roadblock behind them in the attempts to start construction, another even larger tank farm proposal on the West Bank in St. James was announced this past week.

Petroplex is preparing permit application to Louisiana DEQ within a matter of weeks on an even larger tank farm on the West Bank, expecting to cost over $245 million in its first phase.