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Port Allen oil sludge facility facing lawsuits

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PORT ALLEN - Oil recycling company Thermaldyne started processing refinery sludge this month despite several lawsuits aimed at shutting down the facility. The Louisiana Environmental Action Network and Texas-based company TD*X Associates filled lawsuits against the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in February claiming the agency is not properly regulating the facility.

LEAN has claimed Thermaldyne is a sham recycling company that actually aims to cheaply dispose of oil waste while bypassing environmental regulations. LEAN has claimed most of the sludge sent to Thermaldyne will not be recycled.

"No, it will be recycled," said lobbyist and Thermaldyne spokesperson Paul Rainwater. "The goal is to recycle 100 percent of what comes into the facility."

Thermaldyne uses a process known as thermal desorption to heat oil sludge and recycle it into a useable product for refineries. Rainwater says the facility will produce minute levels of air pollution along with toxic waste water that will be transported to a regulated disposal site.

Rainwater says much of the criticism aimed at Thermaldyne is actually misinformation from one of the company's competitors, Texas-based TD*X Associates. Rainwater says TD*X has already lost some of its clients to Thermaldyne since the facility began operating this month.

In its lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, TD*X claims the agency improperly tweaked environmental regulations to benefit a Louisiana industry.

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