Concerns on Lake Maurepas grow after people were met with armed guard during public demonstration
TANGIPAHOA- Dozens of people were on Lake Maurepas to see how Air Products plans to inject carbon dioxide into the bed of the lake. What they saw before that could happen has them angry.
"We were invited out there. Elected officials. All concerned citizens that just want to know what is going on at Lake Maurepas," resident Kinion Bankston said.
Bankston is one of many concerned citizens who took his boat out Monday afternoon. They were supposed to get a look at how Air Products is testing to see where it can store carbon dioxide. The mood quickly changed from curiosity to concern.
"We didn't hear a boom, we didn't see anything at all. But we did get encountered by a boat with a guy in full tactical gear, with an AR telling us to get back to the safe zone, because I guess we were too close to where it was happening at," Bankston said.
Bankston says he asked about the armed man and got few answers. A spokesperson for Air Products confirmed to WBRZ they hired a bodyguard, but only said more information about why an armed guard was necessary would come out Wednesday.
"I guess we were too close to where it was happening," Bankston said.
Air Products is still in litigation with the Livingston Parish Council over a moratorium that council members passed in September. It's the parish's last effort to at least slow down the plans to install wells under the lake bed. The parish admits its lawsuit is a long shot since drilling permits are approved at the federal level.
Another public meeting is being held this month. The Corps of Engineers is having a public hearing on a draft permit to drill a well in St. John the Baptist Parish.
The hearing will be held in the LaBelle Hearing Room, 1st Floor, LaSalle Building, 617 North 3rd Street, Baton Rouge, Louisiana at 6 p.m. December 20.
Air Products released the following statement Wednesday:
The security guard—an off-duty Deputy Sheriff officer from a local parish—who was present for yesterday’s seismic demonstration was hired by Exoduas, Air Products’ contractor conducting the seismic survey. It is a standard practice for Exoduas to have security present when there are active charges in use. There will be security present throughout the seismic survey due to the presence of the charges being handled during this work, to ensure the 1,000-foot distance from the charge LDWR/Louisiana Administrative Code requirement is followed, and for the safety of the workers doing the survey and boaters on the lake.
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