Scotlandville residents angry over location of planned pipeline

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POSTED: Monday, February 11, 2013 - 11:31pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 3:09pm

People in Scotlandville say the promise of jobs is not enough to overcome their safety concern about a proposed pipeline project.

Genesis Energy announced last week it will partner with ExxonMobil on a $125 million transportation system that would involve storage capacity, a pipeline from Port Hudson to baton Rouge, and a train depot at the Maryland tank farm in Scotlandville, near the corner of Blount Road and Scenic Highway.

The pipeline would carry as much as 350,000 barrels of low-cost crude oil from a dock in Port Hudson to ExxonMobil's refinery in Baton Rouge, which is the third-largest in the United States.

But at a meeting Monday night, people told Genesis that they are sick of the problems that industry has brought to Scotlandville.

"It's the heartbeat of this community that is that Genesis should not be brought to our community," said WillieMae Williams.

And because of the health problems many Scotlandville residents have developed because of the Exxon plastics plant and the sewer treatment plant, they loudly opposed Genesis' proposal.

"What are the safety precautions you gonna put here for us?" asked one woman. "Okay, then when there is an accident, how much of it are we gonna be liable for when you tuck up and run?"

"You all need to find another area," one man forcefully suggested. "Try O'Neal Lane, they might let you bring it out there. Stop making Scotlandville a dumping ground!"

"The community that surrounds the Maryland Tank Farm," said Councilwoman Chauna Banks Daniel, "is very astute as it relates to what's going on in the community."

Genesis said this project does not carry the same risks as those other facilities.

"We're not doing reactions here," stated Steve Nathanson, Genesis' president and chief operating officer. "We're not doing catalytic chemistry."

Daniel said, even after private meetings with Nathanson, she shared the public's concerns.

"As any project that goes forth, their intentions are always well," Daniel said, "that they intend to not only make money as a profitable business, but also bring communities, their plans is always to enhance the community. But it's at what cost?

"This project will be my neighbor also; I live across from Blount Road. And I certainly would not want me or my family to be in any way harmed as a result of another plant coming to our area." So I stand basically with the constituents, that I, too, am apprehensive about the project."

Nathanson said the project would create 45 construction jobs and 50 permanent jobs, with an average salary of $80,000. But even that was not enough to sway opinions.

"This project, it's a good project. But all good projects are not for you or your community," Williams said. "Some other place should enjoy this project."

Nathanson told the crowd he was confident the project will happen, but said Genesis wanted community feedback before it applied for permits.

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