Aug 14, 2014 11:45 PM by Kari Beal

Public hearing held as Multi-Chem seeks water discharge permit

Tonight Vermilion Parish residents spoke out against a water permit the Multi-Chem facility in Maurice is seeking. The permit would allow the facility to release discharge water, known as reverse osmosis reject water, into Bayou's in Vermilion Parish. A public hearing was held at the North Vermilion High School for community comment.

"It [the permit] is not the discharge of waste water produced from any chemical blend operations at the site," representative for Multi-Chem, Scott Janoe said. "It is authorizing the occasionally discharge of a non-toxic waste water stream produced from treated city water before it is used at any of Multi-Chem's blending operations."

Many Vermilion Parish residents said they are still concerned. Nearly 100 people showed up to the public hearing and 18 people signed up to make public comments.

"From the pictures we have of discharge that is already going into the ditches there, yes I am very concerned. It glows." Maurice resident Susan Byrd said.

Byrd is talking about pictures resident Marcella Manuel and her took when they spotted a brown, shiny liquid in a ditch near the facility. She explained when it floods; the water from the ditch goes onto her property.

"It backs up onto our property so we are getting contaminates from the water there," Bryd said.
Press Secretary for the Department of Environmental Quality, Greg Langley, explained DEQ has analyzed the Multi-Chem's water discharge for pollutants.

"Copper was the only one that was a little bit high so we set a limit for that. It will maintain a level in the water that is not dangerous to human health and is protective of the environment," Langley said. "If they follow their permit and their permit limits, it is safe," The Department of Environmental Quality, Press Secretary Greg Langley said.\

The fight against Multi-Chem is nothing new in Acadiana. It started in the summer of 2011 ---- when an explosion at multi-chem wrecked the facility in New Iberia. A two day evacuation was issued. OSHA fined the company $49,000, but settled for $24,500. The company was cited on seven violations, including storing chemicals incorrectly and too close together.

The company did not receive any fines from the Department of Environmental Quality or the Environmental Protection Agency. The following year, Louisiana Economic Development award the company $1.85 million property tax exemption for 10 years for their new facility was built near Maurice. The facility built in February 2012 also received an expedited air permit without a public hearing or notice to the community.

"The state did not even do full background checks on Multi-Chem." They've been shut down for violations in places like Ventura, California," Citizen's Against Multi-Chem founder, Marcella Manuel said.

Greg Langley said the DEQ has no noncompliance reports from Multi-Chem in Louisiaiana. He could no answer about other states.

"We don't regulate outside of Louisiana," Langley said.
Manuel said she hopes the comments, documents and pictures collected at the hearing will give DEQ a wider perspective on the situation.

"I am hoping DEQ will overall say,' it is time to take us serious,' they need to cross-reference these facilities, look into the background in other states and what they do," Manuel said.

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