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Henderson officials weigh in on Bayou Bridge Pipeline - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Henderson officials weigh in on Bayou Bridge Pipeline

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Henderson, La. -

As protesters of the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline continue to gain attention in Shreveport, closer to home, officials in Henderson are showing some support for the project. 

The $670 million project would cross 11 parishes and cut right across the Atchafalaya Basin.

Henderson Mayor Sherbin Collette and Atchafalaya Basinkeeper Board Member and Mayor Pro-tem Jody Meche say as long as the pipeline is built to code, they'll welcome the progress.

Over the past 60 or 70 years, pipeline companies and the Atchafalaya Basin have had a choppy relationship.

"They left elevated spoil banks behind, which are like dams crisscrossing the whole Atchafalaya Basin in an east to west direction and it dams all of the water flow in the Atchafalaya Basin," said Meche.

"We're not against pipelines, but they should be put in legally," said Collette. "The way I'm saying that, dredge whatever you've got to dredge and lay the pipeline, but cover it. Put the land back flat to it's normal state."

According to code, pipelines must be dug at least six feet below the basin's swamp floor. However, if the dirt isn't put back where it came from, damaging barriers called spoil banks form and disrupt water flow, plant and animal life.

That's exactly what Collette and Meche want to avoid with the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

"From what I'm understanding about this pipeline, they want to come in and they want to put it in one of the elevated spoil banks on an existing pipeline right of way which crosses the Atchafalaya Basin. We have a problem with that. We're not opposed to a pipeline crossing the Atchafalaya Basin. We're in favor of progress, but we want to make sure that they do it right," said Meche.

"I think I've seen the basin pretty much at its best," said Collette. "And now, we're seeing it at its worst."

The permit application for the pipeline does conform to federal safety standards; that's if the project is built exactly by the book. 

"They shouldn't look for the cheapest, inexpensive way, quickest way to do it. They should do whatever it takes to do it the right way, to make sure that we keep our environment productive and healthy. No cutting corners," said Meche.

A public hearing about the pipeline will be held on Jan. 12th at 6 p.m., in the Oliver Pollock Room of the Galvez Building in Baton Rouge.

UPDATE: The Atchafalaya Basinkeeper clarified on its Facebook page its official position regarding the Bayou Bridge pipeline.  The group says it "opposes the Bayou Bridge Pipeline as it plans to use a right-of-way which is out of compliance with its permit due to illegal spoil banks."  The group also says that it has "never supported any pipeline" and "will not officially oppose a pipeline which uses a right-of-way that is in compliance," but, as a policy, it will not "sponsor or support any particular pipeline built in Louisiana."

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