Lawsuit filed over contamination in I-49 corridor


Lawsuit filed over contamination in I-49 corridor
Claire Taylor, 6:43 p.m. CST February 1, 2016
A lawsuit was filed Monday over environmental concerns on property where the proposed Interstate 49 Lafayette connector will be built.

“This lawsuit is about protecting our community,” said Lafayette attorney William Goodell, who filed the lawsuit.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include Union Pacific Railroad Company, Consolidated Companies Inc. and Southern Pacific Motor Trucking Company, all of whom owned, leased or operated on the property and are accused of contributing to the contamination.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction and declaratory judgment finding the defendants liable for the contamination and cleanup of the property.

Approximately 40 acres between Simcoe Street, Taft Street, Evangeline Thruway and the railroad tracks/Cypress Street either are or were part of the railroad’s property at one time.

Lafayette attorney William Goodell, center, addressesBuy Photo
Lafayette attorney William Goodell, center, addresses the news media Monday about a lawsuit over contamination in railroad property. Also pictured are Elizabeth Roche and Korey Nelson with Burns Charest law firm of New Orleans and Joseph “Buzzy” Joy and Gordon Schoeffler with Joseph Joy law firm of Lafayette. (Photo: Claire Taylor/Daily Advertiser)
State files and court documents confirm that the soil and possibly groundwater are contaminated.

The potential for contaminants to spread is even more urgent because the proposed 5.5-mile interstate connection through Lafayette cuts across that property, which sits above the Chicot Aquifer, source of the city’s drinking water.

Goodell filed the lawsuit in 15th Judicial District Court in Lafayette on behalf of the Salvation Army and Lafayette attorney Barry Sallinger, who owns property adjacent to the former rail yard in downtown Lafayette.  salvation

The Salvation Army is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuitBuy Photo
The Salvation Army is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit over contamination of current and former railroad property in Lafayette. (Photo: Claire Taylor/Daily Advertiser)
Contaminants in the soil and groundwater “constitute an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment,” Paul Templet, former Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality secretary, wrote in a report that’s part of the lawsuit.

He based his report on a review of expert testimony and data from two prior lawsuits.

Soil and shallow groundwater test results on file with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Goodell wrote in a news release, confirm the presence of “a toxic stew of ‘Superfund’ hazardous substances perilously perched atop the Chicot Aquifer.”

Yet records show the DEQ has never ordered cleanup of the site or testing of the Chicot Aquifer, he said.

The DEQ’s risk evaluation/correction action program (RECAP) screening standards for metals, hydrocarbons, and other organic compounds were exceeded in soil and groundwater tests, Templet wrote.

Some of those contaminants, he said, are listed as hazardous substances under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund regulations.

The lawsuit calls for a comprehensive environmental assessment of the entire 40-acre former rail yard so that a cleanup plan can be designed to eliminate the threat to the aquifer and prevent contamination from migrating, Goodell said.

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Cauchemar Media: Freelance Writer/Editor/Screenwriter/Novelist/Photographer/Video Editor/Uranian Astrologer, from New York, now living and teaching writing deep in Cajun Country.

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