香港六和开奖历史记录

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In January 2022, a defunct waste tire processing site in Avoyelles Parish caught fire, sending up a large plume of acrid black smoke that forced the evacuation of 1,500 prisoners from Raymond Laborde Correctional Center.

The rubbery blaze was eventually extinguished. But more than 100,000 waste tires and mounds more of chopped-up tires remain on the abandoned site, causing consternation for local leaders.

Now, Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality says cleaning up the 74-acre Cottonport Monofill site is a priority. On Wednesday, DEQ Secretary Aurelia S. Giacometto announced it was the second "legacy project" across the state, agency officials said.

The only other announced legacy project so far is the waste red mud ponds outside the shuttered LAlumina plant in Ascension Parish, where dust has repeatedly swirled into nearby neighborhoods.

"Consistent with Governor (Jeff) Landry's directive to protect Louisiana's second-to-none environment, DEQ is taking the difficult steps necessary to clean up unmitigated sites that have been left and forgotten by previous administrations," she said.

Giacometto has established "Tiger Teams" to tackle these "legacy sites." DEQ officials have said more sites are being examined but haven't been announced yet.

The rollout of the initiative comes as the DEQ secretary has faced internal division from rank-and-file employees and seen some top departures over her management style during her first five months in office.

Complaints have included restrictions on employee communications with other agencies, a two-week halt in inspections and aggressive efforts to discipline or push out some employees.

Asked if the new program is an attempt to respond to some of those criticisms, Giacometto said the legacy site program fits with her management track record.

Giacometto noted that when she ran the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Donald Trump, she visited agency sites in more than 20 states to get in the field and understand ongoing issues.

At the time, Fish and Wildlife refuges and other sites were left open during the pandemic, boosting visits and usage that required adjustment from her agency. She said she is applying a similar hands-on approach at DEQ.

"Change, transitions, they happen. They're hard, but being here at DEQ, we have a responsibility to the community. We have a responsibility to the health of the community, the health of environment. That is the track in which we are operating," said Giacometto, who is a lawyer and biologist by training.

As she did at LAlumina in March, she visited Cottonport Monofill on Monday with other agency officials and met with local officials to get a better sense of what the cleanup will require.

"I believe in getting into the field, and I believe in making a difference," she said.

Avoyelles Parish officials said they welcomed the attention from DEQ after they had asked local legislators to reach out to the agency for help.

Kevin Bordelon, Avoyelles' civil works director, said the abandoned property is perhaps only a year from going back to the parish for taxes, what's know as being adjudicated.

"Now everyone is concerned the Police Jury will be stuck with the property and a couple million-dollar bill to clean it up," Bordelon said. "It's not the taxpayers of Avoyelles Parish's fault this place is closed."

Permit records show unprocessed tires were piled 20 to 25 feet high in long mounds before many were broken up, injected with water and covered with dirt to extinguish the fire.

Many of the burning tire bits were pushed into at least one of the ponds on the property, a post-fire agency report says.

Waste oil from the burning tires also drained into the ponds on the site. Contractors at the time used booms and other equipment to collect 646 barrels of burned tire oil, the agency report says.

On Monday, agency employees were running drones and doing other steps to assess the site in addition to meeting with local officials, Giacometto said. They also have been researching the ownership history of Cottonport Monofill.

How the site will be cleaned up and who will pay for the work of dealing with an estimated 123,000 tons of tire waste remains unresolved. At least one of the retention ponds on the site will also have to be drained and remediated, DEQ officials said.

The response to the fire and some initial cleanup alone has already cost DEQ around $2 million, Giacometto said.

Often, state agencies try to force the responsible party, typical a facility's permit holder, to pay for environmental cleanup.

Cottonport Monofill was first permitted in 1995 to chip and shred waste tires for civil engineering projects, playground surfaces and as an industrial fuel source. But the operation filed for bankruptcy 10 years later, DEQ officials said.

Lloyd Ward, the principal of Cottonport Monofill, is believed to be living in Tanzania, agency officials said.

His company had taken out a $4 million mortgage on the property and its equipment. During bankruptcy proceedings, however, the inheritor of the loan, First Guaranty Bank, declined to take ownership because of the liabilities, DEQ officials said.

"DEQ has put a talented and resourceful Tiger Team, headed by Oscar Magee, in place who will work with the local officials to identify and agree upon the necessary mitigation steps, secure the necessary funding and supervise the Cottonport Monofill cleanup project to its completion," Giacometto said.

David J. Mitchell can be reached at dmitchell@theadvocate.com.

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