Posted: Aug 9, 2012 9:49 PM by Maddie Garrett
Updated: Aug 9, 2012 11:16 PM
Halliburton's Multi-Chem is moving forward with a new facility in Vermilion parish, despite protests from area residents. More than a month ago residents formed the Citizens Against Multi-Chem group. They said they don't want the facility in their neighborhood, off of Highway 92 and Winfred Road near Maurice, because they are worried about safety and environmental hazards that could come from the chemical plant.
But Multi-Chem executives said the 64 acres it purchased is almost completely cleared and ready for construction. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has already issued three permits for Multi-Chem's new facility: two air permits and one storm-water permit. Multi-Chem is also in the process of applying for building permits through the Vermilion Parish Police Jury.
"Most of the people I've spoken to so far, they're upset," said Marcella Manuel, organizer of Citizens Against Multi-Chem.
But it's that attitude Multi-Chem Vice President Blage Gage hopes to change.
"We want to do the right thing, we have employees that work here, we have families that are here, it is clearly our intention to be a great neighbor," said Gage.
Still, this new neighbor isn't welcome, given the plant explosion at Multi-Chem's New Iberia facility last year. The new plant will perform the same functions as that facility, blending chemicals, but with some upgrades.
"What we've done is really looked hard at the design, based upon what we knew happened and all the contributing factors of that," explained Gage. "We wanted to make sure we had room to segregate activity within the plant. We wanted to make sure we had room to serve as barriers should anything ever happen."
The new facility is not a manufacturing plant, but blends raw materials that are used in the oil and gas industry.
"Mixing them basically, in a tank, doing mechanical mixing and then putting them in smaller containers for shipping offshore," said Multi-Chem Director Cade Bourque.
In spite of opposition, Multi-Chem said it's doing everything by the book.
"Permits, whatever we need, we're going to follow the process. Yeah we think we're going to build a plant there. And we think it's going to be good for the economy, we think it's going to be good for the people, we there's going to be a lot of employment for a lot of the folks," said Gage.
The Citizens Against Multi-Chem have started a petition to halt construction and have appealed to the Vermilion Parish Police Jury and state legislators. Bourque already attended one public meeting to discuss the new plant with residents. Gage said they plan to hold more of those meetings with residents and will notify the public when they will take place.