A citizens group in Iberia Parish is suing the state. The Save Lake Peigneur organization is trying to stop a project they say could possibly be catastrophic to the environment there. The group is also concerned it could open the door for more industrial development at the recreational lake.
"Coastal management failed thousands of citizens in this area by issuing this permit," says Louis Derise.
Derise is with the Save Lake Peigneur organization. The group is suing the state after they issued the first of three permits required for Jefferson Island Storage and Hub to create two new natural gas storage caverns in the lake.
"They leaned on the side of economics rather than the safety and well being of its citizens," explains Derise.
Derise is concerned about what lies beneath. He says the state is ignoring recent bubbling in the lake along with the lack of a complete study to see how the project could affect the already destroyed Jefferson Island salt dome.
"There's evidence that there's faults through the salt dome that could possibly distort the gas storage system," says Derise.
There were two similar natural gas storage caverns built 15 years ago in the middle of Lake Peigneur. They are now owned and operated by AGL the parent company to Jefferson Island Storage and Hub.
Company representatives say they are doing the exact same thing, and it will not negatively affect the environment.
"We're drilling into solid salt so we will be creating two new caverns in a block of solid salt," explains Richard Hyde with AGL.
Hyde says their project is simple and nearby residents and property owners should not fear a catastrophe like the Texaco disaster over 30 years ago.
Hyde says, "Because of that horrific incident that salt mine is full of water so an incident like that can't be recreated again."
Even with that Save Lake Peigneur is still wary of the future and what this project could lead to.
"It'll just be this big storage farm and we're gonna see dozens if not 20 of these," says Derise.
The Tulane Law Center is helping the organization with the lawsuit, filed last week. Meanwhile the Department of Natural Resources, who issued the permit says before they approve or deny, weigh the economic versus environmental impact.
AGL is still waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the permit for them to begin the dredging process.
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