Tuesday, April 17, 2018

More evidence of the contamination is discovered: News Conference, April 11, 2018

Figure 1. Attorney Bill Goodell pictured
here at an earlier meeting in 2017.
On April 11, 2018, attorney Bill Goodell addressed a press conference in downtown Lafayette to inform citizens and our civic leaders of the discovery of additional data showing that contamination has not only entered our drinking water aquifer below the now abandoned railyard downtown, but that this contamination has been flowing into our aquifer for at least a quarter century. Mr. Goodell is the the plaintiff's attorney in a lawsuit against the Union Pacific Railroad seeking cleanup of this site. In his press release, Mr. Goodell stated 
"Recently discovered reports in LDEQ public records require amendment of the existing petitions to formally incorporate newly discovered facts. ... October 1993 Chicot Aquifer testing done by Union Pacific’s own environmental experts ARCADIS Geraghty and Miller and filed with LDEQ on January 12, 1994 proves that hazardous/toxic benzene has leaked from the Facility into the Chicot Aquifer and fouled the City of Lafayette’s drinking water source in violation of a slew of state environmental laws and prohibitions. Union Pacific should have but did not discuss this benzene in the Chicot with the LDEQ,"   
You can read the full press release by clicking here.

The press conference was reported by at least 3 of our local news media outlets:
In these reports, our LUS leadership replied that our Lafayette drinking water meets current human health maximum contaminant criteria. This fact, however, was never mentioned or disputed by Mr. Goodell. The now well documented fact that our water source is being contaminated by the railyard is never mentioned by LUS or local government leaders. Once again our government's representatives have resorted to a straw man fallacy in an apparent attempt to deflect the public's outrage at their inaction. 

I have never heard the attorney for the plaintiffs, Mr. Bill Goodell, say that LUS drinking water is currently unsafe; that is not yet the issue. The issue is that the source of our drinking water for our city and parish, the Chicot Aquifer, is contaminated just a short distance from our downtown water well intakes, and that contamination is almost certainly being slowly drawn toward the inflow our water well intakes. 

For more than a century the Chicot Aquifer has been a source of plentiful high-quality water for our residents. The spread of contamination in the vicinity of our wells must be stopped. Man-made substances have already been detected in some of our downtown wells. Action is needed now! If we wait until the contaminant concentrations at our wells violate health limits it will be practically impossible to restore the aquifer.

We need to begin planning now for remediation of the contaminated aquifer and require the responsible party to pay for this cleanup. We need testing to determine the extent of contamination. Why would our city/parish officials oppose this?

Over a year ago, the Sierra Club and Water Mark Alliance sent a letter to our elected parish leaders expressing concern about the railyard and asking that ten specific actions be taken. To date, these citizens have not even received the courtesy of an acknowledgement.  Why are our government's elected officials stonewalling the public's call for action?

Figure 2. The abandoned railyard is designated here by shading. LUS's 
drinking water wells are a few blocks beyond this map's northern border.