To the Editor:

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This Friday, a year will have passed since Petroplex International submitted its proposed synthetic minor source air permit application to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LADEQ). A full calendar year and questions remain unanswered.

Although Petroplex would like individuals to believe that this permit will be signed, sealed and delivered in the days to come, Community Strength is here once again to put forward the truth. As pointed out in the past, there exist abundant concerns over this hazardous proposal and that is why not a single permit has been authorized thus far. Because of the lackadaisical approach by our elected representatives (an approach that is ever present today), Community Strength has had to remain diligent in a continued pursuit for the facts and as we have always pledged, will stop at nothing in the protection of our loved ones and the land we call home.

Not only has the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) involved itself in this process with a public comment prior to the March 2009 deadline, but a probe is also under way to determine if Petroplex can actually refer to themselves as a “minor source” applicant. Although an investigation similar to this was continuously requested of our St. James Parish Council, economic development board and current administration back in May, 2008, Community Strength was regularly disregarded. Even after several presentations detailing the necessity of such action, our elected leaders told us there was nothing they could do. As discussed in the past, all too often money making ventures such as Petroplex are shielded under the guise of such a designation and luckily for our community, persistence on the part of a few has state and federal agencies beginning to take notice.

Similarly, upon presenting to parish officials on January 21 and more importantly, included in commentary at the LADEQ public hearing in March, Community Strength referenced very specific matters that needed to be researched/resolved by LADEQ prior to the issuance or denial of any such application. As of July 10, it has come to our attention that numerous aspects of such observations have yet to be properly vetted. Although many issues are apparent, two particular organizations have not been contacted by the LADEQ and the public must be made aware of this present oversight.

First, the St. James Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness has details on several drills that had taken place within the Parish in relation to catastrophic tank farm related incidents. Data from these exercises were not made readily available to the public and the questioning of this matter was subsequently admitted into the public record for LADEQ’s review. No such information has been requested thus far, nor has LADEQ reviewed a possible worse case scenario submittal on the part of Petroplex International for any type of spill and/or explosion. Second, as noted by the Army Corps of Engineers, in January 1943 a measurable earthquake occurred in St. James Parish, west along the Laura Plantation property (1.4 miles from the proposed facility) — information on this “Red River fault zone” has not been requested at this time.

With this being said, Community Strength would like to strongly reiterate our resistance to this unnecessary proposal and request that LADEQ carry out the appropriate investigatory approach in reviewing this faulty permit application. Obviously, since LADEQ has failed to pursue details on the information above or respond directly to EPA commentary, the public should know that this permit application process is far from complete.

Our citizens continue to be strictly opposed to Petroplex International, LLC and their intention to develop a petroleum and biofuels products complex in our residential community of Vacherie.

Michael P. Calabro


Member, Community Strength