Concerned Citizens Speak Out About DuPont's Disposal Plans

Environmentalist are hoping to stop DuPont from adding another waste disposal site at its Delisle Plant. DuPont is seeking a permit from the Army Corps Of Engineers to fill 24 acres of wetlands it owns near the North side of the Bay of St. Louis. DuPont would build a 32 acre waste disposal pond.

But WLOX News found out there are some very vocal opponents to DuPont's plan. Some of the people who gathered on the northwest edge of the Bay of St. Louis say it is these waters that could be in jeopardy if DuPont is allowed to build a new waste disposal site.

"We have real concerns about filling the wetlands to do this type of waste disposal when DuPont has numerous acres of land, more solid ground, where they could possibly store the waste rather than invade the wetlands," Nonnie DeBardeleben said.

DuPont wants to use the new site to dispose of the waste materials from the manufacturing of Titanium Dioxide. The Delisle plant produces 270,000 tons of Titanium Dioxide each year. The eight waste sites at DuPont are now nearly full.

"As far as we can look out, 10 years and beyond, we will need construct another unit." DuPont Site Manager Donald Dees said.

Neighbors and nature lovers worry that putting more chemical waste into the ground so near to the bay could be harmful.

"We have a huge fishing industry here. We enjoy shrimp, oysters and water sports. What will happen to us if it gets into the water? I can't believe just because someone says something is safe that it's safe. History has shown this isn't so," Janet Desmore said.

Dees disagrees.

"The construction of our waste disposal units are based on regulatory requirements and the Coke and Ore solids are encapsulated so it can not get into the water. As a second measure of protection, we have ground water monitors located around the area so we can detect if there were some leakage."

Still, neighbors say they'd like to see DuPont truck the material away from Delisle and dispose of it far away from the Bay.

"If they're going to live in harmony with us in this community, I say be a good citizen, be honorable. There are other ways to disperse of this. So if there are alternatives, spend some of that money and do that," Sherrye Webster said.

Dupont leaders say waste disposal is a normal part of their everyday operation and they handle it in an environmentally safe way.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must sign off on the plan before DuPont could build the new disposal site. To make up for destroying wetlands, DuPont has proposed enhancing 80 acres of wetlands it owns east of the Delisle Plant.

Citizens have until January 13th to make comments to the Army Corps. Those against the plan would like a public hearing held before then, but so far no hearing has been scheduled.

by Al Showers