Image by Mohamed Aly from Pixabay

This is “old” news I thought about and decided no but in reading it today the same person who reported the noxious smells in the Irish Channel is the same one who reported the smells here that led the facility owner to withdraw his request. The material stored here is similar to what the Irish Channel and Harvey complained of and the facility was to be in Harvey. Too many coincidences!

On the Saturday before Mardi Gras, Irish Channel resident Justin Vittitow was on his front porch drinking wine with friends when an odor like that of burning tires wafted over them. “We had to go inside because our noses and throats were burning,” Vittitow said. The odor has returned several times and with increasing frequency, he said. Vittitow isn’t the only one to notice. There have been more than 200 complaints filed since 2019 with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality from residents who live in the vicinity of a hazardous liquid storage facility, called Blackwater Harvey Terminals, across the river from Vittitow’s home but less than a mile away as the crow flies. The department has filed these odor complaints under the company’s records, an admission that the company is responsible for the problem, according to neighbors. Along with the smell, neighbors have complained of associated headaches and nausea. Corine de Zeeuw, who also lives in the Irish Channel, described the odor as smelling like asphalt or tar. “My concerns are for the health and the community here,” she said.

The Harvey site comprises of 36 tanks and has been their since 2013. There is another facility in Westwego that has been there since 2008. The link shown documents the less than satisfactory relations in Westwego which have included spills and odors. The company did not comment.

Kimberly Terrell and de Zeeuw co-founded the group Jefferson-Orleans-Irish Channel Neighbors for Clean Air, or JOIN, to address the air emissions issue in the area. Terrell, who lives in the Irish Channel and is familiar with environmental permitting because of her work advocating for communities in high pollution areas, wrote a petition calling for a public hearing on the permit application. De Zeeuw also has relevant experience as an environmental consultant. More than 800 residents signed the petition, and on Monday, the company withdrew its permit application. The company’s notification to the DEQ said the withdrawal was because of “a change in business needs.” “I think the development reflects how public participation is supposed to work in environmental decision-making,” Terrell said. De Zeeuw, who helped edit the petition, called the withdrawal of the request for a new permit “a starting point.” “We’re not done yet,” she said. “The issue of the toxic odors is still existing.”

DEQ is looking into air monitoring there, the same they said for the Irish Channel post.

Vittitow called Blackwater’s decision to pull the permit application “a step in the right direction,” but said he and other neighbors intend to keep up the pressure on regulators to deal with the existing problem. “There’s still more work to be done in getting the DEQ to address and regulate what continues to be an ongoing toxic fume situation,” he said.

Not in my backyard seems to be rising and placing these facilities in residential areas will cause these feelings.

West Bank hazardous Storage Tanks Withdrawn
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