Assumption landfill receives permit

Staff Report

Belle Co. LLC, based in Donaldsonville, applied for a permit to construct and operate an industrial and sanitary solid waste landfill in Oct. 1994, but it took a state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal ruling to force the state to grant the permit last week.

The project faces staunch opposition.

"There is no room for a dumpsite," said Assumption Parish Police Juror Patrick Lawless.

He represents Ward 1, where the Belle Landfill would be built on La. 70 about four miles north of La. 1 in northeastern Assumption Parish near the boundary with St. James Parish.

"I am 100 percent against it. We are a bedroom community, and we want to keep it that way."

He said the area is growing, with a residential neighborhood already in the works.

Lawless said even with the state permit, Belle Co. still must meet Assumption Parish's requirements.

A parish ordinance enacted in 2005 prohibits an industrial landfill within three miles of a residence, school or hospital and a sanitary landfill within two miles.

Assumption Parish is an ideal location, landfill backers have said, because it is rural and geographically centered in the southern portion of the Atchafalaya region.

On July 2, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality reissued a permit to Belle following 11 years of legal wrangling.

DEQ first issued the company a permit in August 1997, sparking a lawsuit by the Assumption Parish Peoples Environmental Action League, called APPEAL for short, in 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge to block the permit.

The District Court in 1998 reversed the issuance of Belle's permit, stating the application was incomplete regarding the state's emergency response statute - a ruling confirmed by the 1st Circuit of Appeal in 2001.

The emergency response statute requires an applicant for a landfill permit to verify local emergency providers and medical facilities are competent to respond to a hazardous material incident.

On Thursday, DEQ attorney Donald Trahan said that a second 1st Circuit of Appeal ruling forced the state agency to consider Belle's application only regarding compliance with the emergency response statute.