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Controversial coal terminal proposal takes center stage in Plaquemines Parish

The Jefferson Parish council could take up a resolution concerning a proposed coal terminal in Plaquemines Parish.

RAM Terminals, LLC wants to build a plant in Ironton to process millions of tons of coal. The company wants to use an existing rail line that runs through Gretna.

More than 100 West Bank residents are working with environmental groups to oppose plans for the RAM coal terminal and export facility in Plaquemines Parish. The proposal calls for trains to transport the coal through the West Bank of Jefferson Parish.

The Gretna and Westwego city councils passed resolutions calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to study the environmental impact of the facility and trains. The Jefferson Parish Council already supported the Regional Planning Commission's plans to ask for federal dollars to look at rerouting the trains through Harvey.

The idea could cost up to $350 million.

Some residents worry the coal trains could impact more than just their health and property values. 

"The ambulance could be blocked by a mile-long coal train," said Laurie Ledet, a Gretna homeowner. "Fire response, we're very worried about that and the coal dust. We don't want to be breathing the coal dust in our neighborhoods with our children and families."

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser says crews coat the coal when it's loaded onto trains yo prevent dust pollution.

The Jefferson Parish council plans to ask the army corps of engineers to conduct an environmental study.

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