Benson Environmental owner address WPPJ concerns

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In a special meeting Wednesday, owners of Benson Environmental met with the Webster Parish Police Jury to address several concerns – chief among them the number of tires stockpiled at the company.

Brian Benson, general manager, says they are within the required limits by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Currently in the yard are approximately 312,000 whole waste tires. The DEQ’s limit is 450,000. He says they are regulated stringently by the DEQ, based on the number of tires they can process.

According to their figures, they recycle about 99.8 percent of everything they take in.
Benson Environmental is a family owned and operated tire transport and disposal company that caters to three states.

In the last few years, the company has spent more than $1 million in equipment upgrades to broaden their market base, Benson says, and to produce a more refined product. He explained to jurors that they process what’s brought in and stockpiled tires at the same time to reduce the inventory as they can.

“That is not acceptable to us,” Benson said of the number of tires stockpiled on site.

Part of the reason for the stockpile is what he called a rebuild cycle. He says while they were upgrading their machinery, they continued to take in waste tires. The good news is inventory has been reduced since December.

Charles Odom, chairman of the police jury’s environmental committee, says his biggest concern was getting the stockpile down.

Another concern addressed is what would happen if Benson Environmental were to close its doors. Who would pay for site clean up? Who would be responsible for the clean up?

“One of the things that the department (DEQ) requires us to carry to ensure that a (situation) like Explo does not happen is a Financial Assurance Trust Fund for site closure,” Benson said.
Benson explained the process of site closure if that were to happen – which he assured is not going to happen.

“Right now, we’re carrying $200,000, which what they (DEQ) mandate,” he said, “for site closure and remediation. What that means, is if under some scenario we shut down, the first thing that would happen is we would begin to eliminate everything on site.”

After that, the land would be returned to its natural state; in other words, it would be returned to its original condition before Benson opened its doors.

“It makes me feel 100 percent better to know there is some plan for disposal if something were to happen,” police jury president Jim Bonsall said.

Mosquitoes were another concern, because whole tires hold water, encouraging breeding, during periods of rain. Benson assured jurors that Benson Environmental takes pest control and vermin control measures, and they take it seriously. Pest control is done once per month. This was a concern posed by Juror Steve Lemmons, who represents the district in which Benson Environmental resides.

After some discussion, Benson indicated its willingness to increase pest control measures during the summer months if the police jury feels current measures are inadequate.
Jurors expressed gratitude to Benson for saving the parish money in that the parish can take tires to them without paying a dime.

“They have saved us on our recycling bill over the last five years,” Odom said. “To me, when every time me or another juror has had a question, I’ve called and gotten a straightforward answer.”

Odom says he wanted to see reports for the last two years to see what their fluctuations in tire intake and stockpile looks like to see what can be done to help get the stockpile down.

Odom also addressed media in attendance, saying many times private companies are discussed in meetings, and asked that competition be taken into consideration before printing the article or story.

“This is a business deal, it’s a unique situation,” he said. “This came about almost 20 years ago, and it’s a public/private enterprise. It’s the first time it was ever done where we came in and swapped 20 acres of land in one area and 20 acres in another. This has been a win-win situation for the parish, and they’ve taken care of what was a thorn in our side.”

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