Terrebonne fight against oil-waste facility continues - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Terrebonne fight against oil-waste facility continues

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HOUMA, LA (WVUE) - Chris Domangue recently bought a house near downtown Houma, a place for his growing family.

"We have a 2-year old, I have another one on the way," he says. "They have so many great features in the house for young children, there's a lot of cool things about it that we just loved, that's why we decided to move here."

But now Domange is thinking of moving again. That's because a company wants to build an oil-waste facility less than a mile from his house.

Vanguard Environmental got a permit from the Department of Natural Resources to construct its saltwater-injection waste disposal site on Highway 182. Terrebonne leaders fought the proposal, citing a parish ordinance that says injection wells have to be at least one mile from schools, homes and businesses.

But a district judge declared that ordinance unconstitutional and the state Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

State law says the proposed type of injection well only has to be 500 feet from an inhabited dwelling.

"We're an oil and gas community, but we just don't want to be the dumping ground for other parishes or the state," says Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet.

FOX 8 spoke to the owner of Vanguard. Brandon Gawlik says parish leaders told him to build at the site six years ago before he ever applied for a permit.

A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources says the Vanguard application had to meet strict environmental and safety criteria before being approved.

The company had to prove that its wells deep underground wouldn't leak and emissions wouldn't exceed levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Vanguard got an exemption from air quality over the site, saying its facility would emit less than 5 tons of pollutants per year.

Domangue says the company's own paperwork disputes that.

"They told the DEQ in the paperwork that they would be processing about 4,000 barrels a day," he says. "Flip over to the DNR permit, they said we're going to be processing 7,200 barrels or upwards of 28,800 barrels a day."

Domangue notified state officials, and last week, the DEQ gave Vanguard 30 days to clarify its plans.

In the meantime, the parish has hired lawyers specializing in environmental permits to continue fighting Vanguard's proposal.

Domangue hopes the company will move its project somewhere else away from family.

"It's such a question mark in your head," he says. "What if?"

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