Closure of MRGO prompts recycling move to Killona

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2008


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – A 108-year old Louisiana company specializing in scrap metal recycling has announced plans to bring part of its operations to a site along the Mississippi River in St. Charles Parish.

Representatives from Southern Recycling out of New Orleans recently told the St. Charles Council of the company’s intention to relocate its shipbreaking and metal recycling operations to a site in Killona because of constraints that will be created by the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to close the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet.

“We wanted to stay as close to New Orleans as possible,” said Southern Recycling CEO Joel Dupre. “We want to remain a part of the community we have embraced for so long.

Dupre told the council that Southern Recycling, which operates along the Industrial Canal in New Orleans, uses the MRGO to get dilapidated ships to its facility so that they can be broken down and sold for scrap. He said when the MRGO is finally closed in the fall, Southern Recycling will not have a deep-water route large enough to fit the ships.

“This is a big win for St. Charles, and a big win for Louisiana,” said Dupre.

The company looked at six in-state and out-of-state sites before deciding on the Killona site. The new location consists of roughly 344 acres of batture land, which is already permitted for barge fleeting and development of a dock, and 117 acres of dry land. Dupre said Southern Recycling spent about $9 million on the land purchase and said it would take an additional $30 million to get the facility up and running by next year.

“Retention of existing Louisiana businesses is among our highest economic development priorities,” said Stephen Moret, secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, who helped secure the St. Charles site for the company. “We are very pleased to be able to retain them within the region and the state. We see this as a strong indication of the company’s commitment to the Greater New Orleans area and Louisiana.”

The biggest concern from the council came from District 1 Councilman Billy Raymond, who represents the Killona area. Raymond said he supports the move, but  questioned Dupre about Southern Recycling’s commitment to hire local residents.

Dupre said the investment in St. Charles should generate about 100 new jobs in addition to the 150 that will be retained. He said the company would definitely consider any qualified applicants from the area.

St. Charles Parish officials also anticipate the project will become a catalyst for additional development.

St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said the project is only a starting point in the parish’s vision of a world-class, deep-water business park offering rail, highway and Mississippi River access.

 “We know this project holds so much potential for both New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana, and we are pleased that Southern Recycling has already made commitments to hiring locally and using local vendors whenever possible,” St. Pierre said. “We’re hoping adjacent land can be acquired in order to provide more opportunities for businesses wishing to take advantage of the transportation options at the site.”

Dupre explained that Southern Recycling is a full-range metal recycler that handles everything from aluminum cans to deep-water tankers. The company uses a giant shredder to deconstruct the junk metal into scraps that can be resold to other companies. One of the company’s biggest clients is Nucor Steel out of North Carolina, who is considering construction of a 4,000-acre facility in St. James Parish.