Jul 2, 2012 11:14 PM by Maddie Garrett

Residents Protest New Multi-Chem Facility

The chemical company Multi-Chem, recently bought by Halliburton, is building a new facility in Vermilion Parish. This new location off highway 92 will have an office, field laboratory and blending facility on 64 acres of land. Multi-Chem said it will eventually replace the New Iberia facility.

While there are mixed reactions, some people in the area are trying to stop construction.

"Not too long ago I was worried they were going to have a housing development right next door to us, we're a basically a rural area, and now to me, this is much more serious. They are talking about chemicals, a chemical plant in our neighborhood," said nearby resident Charlotte Lege.

Lege isn't alone, about 20 people showed up to the Vermilion Parish Police Jury meeting to protest the new Multi-Chem facility.

"We've got schools, we've got residents, agriculture, aquaculture, businesses, you name it, there's every reason in the world. I've never spoken to a person that lived near a chemical plant that was happy about it," said Marcella Manuel, who's heading up the group Citizens Against Multi-Chem.

Manuel said there's a reason for their worries, given the Multi-Chem explosion only a year ago in New Iberia.

"I think scared would be the probably be the first reaction. Most of the people we've spoken to so far, and we've only reached about a 20th of the population, they're upset," she said.

Construction is still in the very early stages, but there might not be much that residents can do because there are no zoning restrictions in Vermilion Parish.

"They can locate next to a residential area because we don't have zoning in our parish," explained Police Jury President Nathan Granger.

"But we always have concerns and always look out for the well being of our citizens and get involved to make sure the clients have all the state and federal permits that they need to put a facility here," he added.

Still, Manuel said they're not giving up, and plan to start a petition against the facility.

Halliburton's Multi-Chem responded to KATC, addressing the residents' concerns. Spokesperson Katie Dupuis issued this response:

"Halliburton is dedicated to the health, safety and environment of our employees and local residents. Our new facility will be built and will operate with safety and environment at the forefront. Halliburton has an intense emphasis on safety and our employees undergo ongoing training on all aspects of health, safety and environmental responsibility.

"Halliburton is committed to conducting operations that are safe and have minimum impact on the environment. We are continuously instituting best management practices to improve our procedures."



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