GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - The Jefferson Parish Council voted Wednesday to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an environmental impact study and hold public hearings on a controversial coal-handling project in a neighboring parish.
To be sure, the public outcry in Jefferson Parish is not dying down, because trains carrying coal would run through Gretna.
"When other states reject dirty coal, Louisiana should not consent to be the cesspool of the nation," said Gretna resident Sevilla Finley to the council.
"If not handled properly, we could see a disaster in our beloved parish when it comes to the quality of life that we all enjoy right now," said Oscar Pipkins, president of the West Jefferson Civic Coalition.
Ram Terminals wants to build the huge coal facility in Ironton near Myrtle Grove in Plaquemines Parish.
"We already have two coal plants that are not good neighbors at all," said Myrtle Grove resident Linda Ramil, who also spoke at the Jefferson Parish Council meeting.
The council is concerned that the project could adversely impact coastal restoration efforts in the area.
"We're all fighting for coastal protection and hurricane protection. If we're going to build and rebuild our marshes, we're going to make sure that this project doesn't affect our future," said Councilman Ricky Templet.
Ramil, who drove up to Jefferson Parish for the meeting, applauded the council for getting involved.
"It's somewhat embarrassing to me because I live in Plaquemines Parish. I had to come all the way up to Gretna and all the way up to Jefferson Parish to fight this fight," she said.
She others voiced concerns about health risks from having coal near homes.
"I think every day if my body is affected by this, is this in blood, you know, " she said.
She said attempts to sell her home near a coal facility in Plaquemines Parish have proved futile.
"You can count on your property values going completely down," she said.
We reached out to the State Department of Natural Resources and Ram Terminals for comment, but no one responded as of the writing of this story.