A permit to operate a commercial waste fluids injection well disposal facility at a location off Jack Martin Road near Dubberly has been granted to Nelson Energy, Inc. by the state Department of Conservation.
“Personally, I was against it because of the infrastructure in the area, but nevertheless, (Nelson) received a permit to operate this well,” Webster Parish Police Jury President Jim Bonsall told the jury at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Now, the first thing we have to do is take care of our roads, and they can’t handle this kind of traffic, either the weight or number,” he said.
Louisiana’s Commissioner of Conservation James H. Welsh signed off on the permit in a letter dated February 6. Police Jury member Steve Lemmons, who represents District 7 where the well will be operated, was one of those residents who received the letter.
“They say (Nelson) met the regulations, that’s their opinion. I don’t think they have,” Lemmons said. “Is there anything else the jury can do? We’re investigating that possibility now with Patrick (Jackson, the jury’s attorney) to see if there’s some action left to us.”
Lemmons says Nelson Energy officials indicated during a November public hearing that the company was willing to spend the money to bring roads up to specification for the operation of a commercial disposal well.
“They’re going to have to do the roadwork to get it up to specifications before they can travel on it,” he said. “There will be some right-of-way issues in order for them to make two turns, off Hwy. 532 and then onto Jack Martin Road from Peachtree. They wanted to get the permits before they did anything. Now that it’s gone through, they have to meet the standards.”
Jackson told jurors the infrastructure leading into the drop spot would require about $700,000 in improvements “just to maintain traffic that was anticipated by the operators. It’s not been improved yet and hasn’t gone into full operation yet.”
In order to protect the roadways until improvements can be made, Jackson recommends an ordinance to temporarily prohibit heavy trucks.
“My recommendation to the jury is to limit traffic to residential only with exemptions for trash, bus and agricultural … traffic that’s periodic and intermittent, not heavy, voluminous and 24-7,” he said.
Doing so, Jackson says, would give parish engineer Brad Graff the opportunity to review estimates and talk to operators, “… and see exactly what they’re going to do. Leave it at that residential weight limit until such time as the infrastructure is brought up to specifications.”
In November, a public hearing conducted by representatives of the state Department of Natural Resources at Minden’s city council meeting chambers produced a standing room only crowd. A petition with 237 signatures of individuals who opposed granting the permit was handed over to the panel.
Overwhelmingly, those who spoke during that meeting were opposed to granting the permit. Concerns included environmental risks, both on- and off-site, and safety issues involving large trucks hauling near residential dwellings, an Evergreen Life Services group home, a daycare and through school bus routes.
But, in the letter granting the permit, Welsh said those factors, plus others including a drop in surrounding property values, proximity to a flood plain and possible ground water intrusion, had been addressed to the satisfaction of the state.
“We’re not through yet,” Lemmons said. “We’re doing everything we can.”