Foul odor in Mt. Airy under LDEQ review

Published 10:01 am Monday, May 13, 2019

LAPLACE — Residents in the Mt. Airy area have noticed a foul odor in the air for the past several months and while the smell is annoying, health officials insist it poses no threat.

Brian Tusa, southeast regional manager for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, said an investigation identified the smelly source emitting from a tank cleaning operation from at least one oil facility in the area while they were performing cleansing operations. Tusa said in one instance investigators found a tank uncovered during cleaning, thus allowing the smell to escape.

Tusa said residents concerned about air quality in Mt. Airy initially notified DEQ in November and December. He said his agency visited Noranda, Apex Oil Company and MPLX, a division of Marathon Petroleum, and conducted air monitoring tests, which produced no unusual readings.

However, the complaints persisted and in mid-April a DEQ team noticed spillage from a tank being cleaned at Apex, which is located in Mt. Airy.

“(Apex) has spent a lot of time and resources working on this,” Tusa recently told members of the St. John the Baptist Parish Council. “There are some potential issues for leaking and spillage from some of the products in the lines. The facility is working on those issues.

“There is no danger; it’s just very smelly.”

Tusa said the results of the investigation were forwarded to the enforcement division of the LDEQ, which will determine if any fines would be levied. Additionally, he said Apex must notify DEQ before opening and cleaning tanks in the future.

“(Apex) was not happy we were there,” Tusa admitted.

In other Council news, the awarding of a water meter contract will likely command much of the attention when the Council convenes Tuesday at the parish courthouse in Edgard.

Initially, it appeared Greenup Industries, which is located in Gonzales, submitted the low bid of $5.5 million.

However, Robottom recommended accepting the $5.7 million bid of Texas-based Aqua Metric Sales Company, which drew the ire of several Council members.

The item was tabled during the April 23 meeting, as the Council sought legal counsel from the District Attorney’s office.

— By Richard Meek