Jefferson Parish residents still wanting answers after public meeting on odor issue

Jefferson Parish residents still wanting answers after public meeting on odor issue

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Residents in Jefferson Parish were angry Tuesday after a public meeting to address a continuous foul odor.

Hundreds attended the meeting, hopeful they would get some answers about why their homes and neighborhoods have continued to smell despite pleas to fix it. Instead, many left furious.

“It is a total waste of time, the bureaucrats up there making excuses, doing the dog and pony show and not answering any of the citizens' questions,” said resident Mickey Fontenot.

“Nobody gives you a direct answer, not a direct answer,” said Robert Duncan Jr.

Residents said they were angry, not only because they said they could smell the odor as they left the meeting, but also because they said they didn’t receive any answers to the questions. Organizers arranged for state, parish and local leaders to be present to answer questions after making short presentations.

“People just want to know when the damn smell is going to go away,” said the moderator of the meeting.

After investigating the source of the smell last year, environmental, parish and landfill leaders pointed to the West Bank landfill as being a likely source, saying the landfill wasn’t up to standards and had pools of leachate, or a substance that if not contained would emit odor into the community.

Landfill leaders said they are working to make upgrades to better eliminate the leachate by the end of the month, but they said the upgrades won’t eliminate the smell entirely.

Landfill leader: “We have gas monitoring systems at the landfill that shows actually the level has been reduced.”

Moderator: "That doesn’t answer the question."

Landfill leader: “I want to make something very clear to the public. Number 1: When you pump more leachate, that means you recover more gas and the efficiency of the system...this was interesting. I was talking to a technical person and they asked us - I was surprised - he said, ‘I thought this was like a swimming pool full of leachate, and we grabbed the biggest pump and pump it dry in 30 days.' That’s not that simple. There are pockets of various leachate beneath the landfill. The geology is very complicated.”

Many people say they also had lingering concerns about the health impact.

The moderator did ask one of the doctors, who said it’s hard to give a definitive answer because of differing ages, chemicals and duration of exposure. He said it wouldn’t be a stretch for people to be experiencing those health impacts, though.