Residents in Livingston, Ascension parishes express concern over new chemical plant heading their way

A chemical company based in East Baton Rouge Parish called Air Products plans to build a new plant in Ascension Parish.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
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LAKE MAUREPAS, La. (WAFB) - A chemical company based in East Baton Rouge Parish called Air Products plans to build a new plant in Ascension Parish.

The company’s clean energy plan is to pump carbon dioxide into the ground under Lake Maurepas rather than release it into the air. But folks in lower Livingston and Ascension Parishes said the news came to them without warning and without answers about how it will impact life on the water.

“We’re being told the lake bottom itself is owned by the state so we’re not sure that we have any choice of whether or not they come or don’t come,” said Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks.

Residents said they want to know what the carbon dioxide would do to the drinking water and the ecosystems around the lake in addition to the potential long-term effects.

“It’s safe today, but is it safe five years from now? And if it’s so safe, why aren’t you just putting it on site? Why are you looking somewhere off-site to go with it,” Ricks added.

“You know, usually we get informed. We get to go sit and listen to what’s about to happen. But this time, it didn’t happen that way,” said Livingston Parish resident Wayne Speaks.

As the president of his neighborhood’s homeowner’s association, Speaks said the lake is a sanctuary for people out here. He said he doesn’t want to see any of its beauty tarnished.

“We’re concerned that once they start the dredging, and once they start doing the charges and stuff that they’re talking about, that they’re going to mess that lake completely up,” Speaks continued.

“We’re worried about the CO2 and what it’s gonna do years later, what it’s gonna do to the wildlife, and what it’s gonna do to the people that make a living on Lake Maurepas,” said Rene Fletcher, another Livingston resident.

“All of this came to my light about a week and a half ago. And I’ve been working with other concerned citizens trying to get something going,” Fletcher added.

Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks and the Parish Council President said they already have something going. They plan to meet with other council members to form a special committee to bring in some folks with Air Products and get answers.

WAFB has been in contact with Air Products. But so far, they have not returned requests for an interview.

The next Livingston parish council meeting is Thursday. A large turnout from residents is expected.

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