Drilling Too Close For Comfort

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A controversial drilling plan in Houma is testing leaders and residents. The site is now roped off, markers are set up, but many believe it’s too close for comfort. WGNO News Anchor Vanessa Bolano has more.

“I’m really sorry to hear that. I don’t like to hear that at all,” says Bridgette Autin.

Autin is one of several frustrated residents in North Houma. She worries about the future of her 4-year-old son now that Vanguard Environmental plans to turn a nearby property into an oilfield dump by drilling 4,000 feet underground and injecting leftovers from oil production.

“Out of the wells they have things like benzene, and other things that come through, and it’s things that you would not want to have right next to your house, and our concern is the safety, welfare, and health of our residents,” explains Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet.

Parish President Michel Claudet is concerned and confused. He says a Terrebonne Parish ordinance dating back to the 1980’s prevents companies from drilling such wells within a mile of homes, but the state only requires they be at least 500 feet away.

“These individuals tested it. They went to the state. They never applied for a permit from us because we would have declined it,” says Claudet.

Despite disputing the permit a local judge has sided with Vanguard. Now two elementary schools, playgrounds and a neighborhood are within that one mile radius.

James Charles, Assistant Principal at Legion Park School says, “Morally to us it’s, to me, it’s not the right thing to do!”

The proposed site off LA-182 is roped off, stakes are in the ground, and Claudet feels like he’s run out of options.

“I just think if this ruling was allowed to hold all of Lousiana could be a dumping ground for all kinds of saltwater injection wells throughout the area. I don’t know what else we could possibly do. We had ordinances that said don’t do it and they’ve superseded it. If we wanted that type of activity we would welcome them to our parish, but that’s not what we want and that’s not what my people want,” says Claudet.