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Colfax company withdraws burn request

by Associated Press

COLFAX — Faced with mounting public opposition, a company has withdrawn its request to be allowed to quadruple its open burning of toxic waste in Grant Parish.

The Town Talk reports that Clean Harbors Colfax has withdrawn a request for a permit modification from the state Department of Environmental Quality to allow it to increase the annual amount of net explosive weight it openly burns.

The company had wanted to burn more than 2 million pounds, up from about 500,000 pounds, at its facility 5 miles northwest of Colfax.

Environmentalists and citizens had rallied to fight the company’s permit request, saying it would mean four times the amount of toxic fumes that endanger public health. Also, the Rapides and Grant police juries, the Colfax Town Council and the Pineville City Council opposed the permit request.

Phillip Retallick, an executive with Clean Harbors, said the company had sought the permit modification as “a contingency plan” in case it needed to increase burning related to Camp Minden waste. He said the permit modification was not needed after a decision was made for the explosive M6 and other materials to be burned on site at Camp Minden.

Colfax Mayor Ossie Clark said the city had been prepared for a “very long battle” with Clean Harbors over the permit. He said he was “elated” over the company’s decision to not seek the increase in burning.

“I feel happy for the community,” said Brenda Vallee, who co-chairs Central Louisiana Coalition for A Safe and Healthy Environment. “I think that the community was trying to give a message that they were concerned for the health and safety.”

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