Protests lodged over coal export terminal on the Lower Mississippi River

Parish leadership, experts and residents gathered the evening of Sept. 18 at the Belle Chasse Auditorium for a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources public hearing on the proposed RAM coal export terminal.

The Sierra Club noted in a Sept. 18 statement about the hearing a state judge from the 25th District Court revoked RAM Terminals LLC’s previously granted coastal use permit in late 2014. The court said the permit had been illegally issued and required the company to re-submit the permit application with more extensive analysis. The Sept. 17 hearing was in response to resolutions from Jefferson and Gretna as well as public concern over the company’s proposal.

At the hearing, more than one hundred and fifty community members urged the department to deny the company a permit because of the harmful air and water pollution it would release into surrounding communities, the destruction it would cause to coastal wetlands and restoration projects as well as the dangerous coal train traffic it would usher into nearby residential neighborhoods, the club said.

“The communities of Ironton, Wood Park, and Gretna and surrounding neighborhoods are here to call on the Department of Natural Resources to reject this risky coal export plan,” said Benedict Rousselle, Plaquemines Parish Council Chairman. “The department should follow local leadership of Plaquemines and Jefferson Parishes and halt this proposal from an out-of-state company.”

Besides environmental concerns, the club says the proposal also relies on a “beleaguered and ever-diminishing international coal market for economic justification.”

The terminal would be the first facility in the area directly connected to rail, the clud said. The facility’s construction and operation would result in mile-long, uncovered coal trains running through surrounding neighborhoods, turning residential areas into an industrial corridor.

Public comments from the hearing will be used to help the Louisiana DNR come to a final decision on the company’s proposal, which was resubmitted in June.

Said a DNR notice about the Sept. 17 hearing: “Proposed installation of a coal export facility. Material will be excavated from on site to reinforce the foundations for a rail loop and retention ponds. The rails will be connected to a barge docking area and receiving station by conveyors. A total of 34 dolphins will be installed for barge fleeting adjacent to the site. A total of 128,000 [cubic yards] of material will be excavated and placed on site. In addition, 700,000 cy of hauled-in material, 14,000 cy of rock and 15 cy of concrete will be required.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.