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This week's talking points
... with Shonna Riggs
By Shonna Riggs -   Nov 23, 2006

Machines will replace humans in St. Charles Parish at the water works department “for two reasons, one is we just can’t find qualified people to work,” public works director Greg Bush tells the Herald-Guide.

“And the second reason is we can save the parish some money.”

The parish purchased four trucks for $90,000 to compensate for a shortage of workers to clean out culverts and other debris and $170,000 was approved in the Nov. 2 budget to purchase two street sweepers.

“This is less costly for the parish,” Bush says. “It is easier to hire one person to drive a dual steering wheel street sweeper than to hire six people to clean up culverts and drains by hand or using rakes.”

Hurricane Katrina is blamed for the shortage of qualified workers in the parish and the need for extra equipment to clean drains.

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Company spokesman Deb Seidel tells the Herald-Guide that Bunge North America will install new emission burners at its Destrehan location - “but not because we did anything wrong.”

The Environmental Protection Agency accused the firm of violating air quality standards at 12 grain elevators and grain processing plants in eight states.

The Bunge grain elevator in Destrehan must have new low emission burners installed by next year as part of the settlement agreement. The federal agreement requires the site to reduce the amount of hexane solvent lost during extraction of oil from soybeans and corn.

“We agreed to make the changes, because we believed it was in everyone’s best interest,” Seidel told the Herald-Guide.

The EPA announced the $13.9 million dollar settlement on Oct. 26 saying the agreement would eliminate 2,200 tons of harmful emissions per year in eight states.

The new burners are designed to produce less nitrogenous gas that causes air pollutants that may be harmful for the lungs. The Bunge elevator in Destrahan was built in the 1950’s and employs about 140 employees.

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