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Plaintiffs provide update on lawsuit claiming Chicot Aquifer contamination

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 18:59:48-05

Lawyers for several downtown property owners gave an update on their suit alleging Chicot Aquifer contamination today.

The suit, first filed in 2016, is still pending in Lafayette court. The business owners say that their property is adjacent to several old railroad yards, all located on the Evangeline Thruway near or in Downtown Lafayette.

Their suit claims that several railroad companies either contaminated the ground or added to pre-existing contamination, and have never cleaned up the mess. They also allege that the toxic soup is threatening the Chicot Aquifer - which is the source of water for all of Acadiana, including Lafayette.

Environmental experts hired by these plaintiffs tested samples collected by state officials in their required environmental assessment for the extension of Interstate 49 through the heart of Lafayette - and the results were not good news for the Aquifer, said attorney William Goodell.

"Contamination that we found exceeds DEQ's regulatory threshold for safety, so its beyond what is would be safe for the general public to have in their groundwater," Goodell said.

We reached out to the state Department of Environmental Quality, the department responsible for ensuring that Louisiana's land and water are clean, but they said they won't comment on pending litigation. Attorneys for the railroad companies have been fighting the suit by claiming the suit is too vague to answer.

Goodell said he is filing an amended petition to include allegations related to this new information, but it wasn't yet available in the clerk's file as of presstime Tuesday.