Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Environmental group fears WBR plant could harm community

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PORT ALLEN- The Louisiana Environmental Action Network or LEAN is pushing to stop a brand new plant from operating in its current form.

Thermaldyne is set to open soon. It's a recovery facility that will provide recycling of oil-based materials. The Department of Environmental Quality scheduled a hearing Thursday night to go over concerns. Environmentalists fear the plant will rebrand some hazardous water from being called hazardous which would allow them to operate without as many regulations.

Thermaldyne issued the following statement.

"Thermaldyne is committed to the health and safety of its employees and the residents of the Greater Baton Rouge area. The Port Allen facility will provide legitimate recycling of specific oil-based refinery materials that would otherwise be discarded in landfills. The project is good for Louisiana and good for the environment." - Richard Cates, President of Thermaldyne.

In West Baton Rouge Parish, residents like Curtis Ducote are worried about what the plant would mean for his family. Ducote received a flyer that LEAN sent to thousands of homeowners detailing the concerns.

"One release, or accidental release, wind blowing this way could affect us tremendously," Ducote said.

Marylee Orr with LEAN said people on both sides of the Mississippi River should be concerned.

"We believe what they are trying to do is be exempt from the laws that protect our land, air, and water," Orr said. "That's our problem. We don't want them to get away with not complying with the laws in place to protect us."

Orr wanted to make things clear, LEAN is not against industry.

"There is a lot of industry that goes above and beyond the law," Orr said. "Those are welcomed here and are good neighbors. We don't want neighbors in here that say ok this is an exception, you don't have to comply with the law. That's not fair to industries that are complying with laws."

For residents like Ducote, it's a priority for him to be a part of the meeting since he's passionate about the future of the place he calls home.

"It's like a domino effect," Ducote said. "If one plant gets it, then what's going to hold these other plants accountable. The nature of this industry and this plant we need to take all the precautions necessary."

The meeting with the Department of Environmental Quality is scheduled for 6 pm. WBRZ will have a crew there and will have more information at 10.


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