Group alleges permit violations during pipeline construction through Atchafalaya Basin

Group alleges permit violations during pipeline construction through Atchafalaya Basin
Dean Wilson has dedicated himself to fighting for the Atchafalaya Basin and ensuring the natural habitat is not destroyed. (Source: WAFB)

ST. MARTIN PARISH, La. (WAFB) - The Atchafalaya Basin is one of the many areas that has helped Louisiana earn its name as the Sportsman’s Paradise.

Helping to protect the Basin - Dean Wilson and the Atchafalaya BasinKeepers.

“We have more life around us right now than any other place you can go in North America,” said Wilson. ”We are entrusted, and we are so lucky to have one of the most beautiful wetlands in the entire world, the most {sic} swamps in the world is protecting millions from flooding and then we allow these companies to come in and do this."

Wilson is talking about the pipelines that are running through the heart of the basin. "You’re not supposed to block waterways, not even under construction,” Wilson said.

Specifically, he has set his sights on the recently finished Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

"Every 500 feet, you've got to put a 50 feet gap to keep the water flowing north to south.”

On a tour of the Basin, Wilson pointed out what he said are permit violations by Energy Transfer, the main subsidiary of the pipeline. He primarily focused on the buildup of land, which he said was left behind by the construction of the pipeline and is now damming off several the bayous.

“Any fish you have in there is trapped in there. So they can’t get out,” said Wilson. “And also, it is, you block water flow. Water flow, you ruin water quality, water quality affects fish. It can kill fish.”

Wilson said if these alleged violations are not fixed, he plans to take the company to court.

“It’s completely illegal,” said Wilson. “It’s very, very upsetting.”

WAFB reached out to Energy Transfer about this claim.

“Pipelines are the safest way to transport the oil and gas products we use every day -- products which are used in the manufacturing of computers, cell phones, clothes, makeup, glasses, contact lenses, and solar panels, to name just a few,” according to an email from Energy Transfer communications specialist Alexis Daniel.

“Additionally, we are just one of the many pipelines that cross the Basin. Our pipeline was safely constructed, following all applicable rules and regulations, and it has been safely operating since April of 2019. Additionally, we continue with our restoration efforts following the completion of construction. Our commitment has been and continues to be the full restoration of the area in the Basin through which we pass to its preconstruction contours,” Daniel wrote.

The tour kicked off the Atchafalaya BasinKeeper’s 15th Anniversary celebrations. The celebration is capped off with a gala to help the nonprofit raise funds and awareness to the issues facing the basin. Learn more by clicking the link here.

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