Although the St. Charles Parish Council has final say over the decision, the Planning Commission has recommended denying Gulf South Pipeline Co.’s rezoning request for its future gas compressor.
The Montz community, which opposes rezoning their residential community to allow industrial development, praised the commission’s move last Thursday. The commission recommends denying the company’s two rezoning requests.
“Montz has a lot of men and woman that work in the chemical field that know the danger of this,” said resident Shannie Marie Borne. “And if anyone in Montz doesn’t think this will affect them – think again.”
The gas compressor station would fuel Entergy’s $869 million power station under construction in Montz, but residents maintain they were not aware the gas compressor station was part of the project.
Both Entergy Louisiana and Gulf South Pipeline say the location is the optimal one for the operation.
At a June 14 town meeting, Montz residents presented petitions with 269 signatures opposing the Gulf South Pipeline’s proposed gas compressor and pipeline. Entergy Louisiana spokesman Michael Burns said the delays could push back the power station completion and increase costs.
“Without the Gulf South compressor station, the costs and the schedule for the new power plant may be impacted,” Burns said. “We will work with the community and Gulf South to address the various stakeholder concerns and impacts.”
He said the compressor station is critical to Entergy’s St. Charles Power Station, which would supply “clean, reliable and affordable power” to the area, as well as Louisiana. Burns also said the power plant’s construction will create hundreds of jobs and produce an estimated $1 billion of economic activity in the area.
“St. Charles Parish residents will share in more than $1.3 billion of supply cost savings over the life of the plant,” he added.
Gulf South Pipeline spokeswoman Molly Ladd Whitaker said the site was selected “to minimize the overall environmental impact of this project, while meeting the operational requirements of the St. Charles Power Station.”
She added, “We remain committed to the construction of the Montz Compressor Station. Gulf South will continue with the St. Charles Parish rezoning process and address the concerns raised by the community.”
Borne said their issue with the project is safety.Gulf South would be pushing compressed gas about 75 feet directly behind some homeowners at maximum pressure of 1,100 pounds, she said. As examples, she cited the February explosion of a pipeline that claimed an employee’s life, and a 1973 incident where a spark from a lawnmower ignited a plume of gas that injured two people nearby in the Diamond community.
Montz resident Coleen Perilloux Landry, who also is staunchly opposed to Gulf South’s expansion into Montz, said the community needs more residents, not industry.
“The Planning Commission made a very wise decision,” Landry said. “Beginning in the early 1900s, Montz has seen too much destruction and loss of population because of industry.”
Landry’s family, the Perillouxes, have lost much to industry, she said.
“Montz was once the largest town on the east bank of St. Charles Parish, then three levee setbacks by the Corps [of Engineers], the building of the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway that destroyed wonderful farms and residences, then LP&L destroyed Keller Town to build Lil Gypsy has ruined the very heart of the town,” she said. “Grocery stores, a church, a post office, an auto mechanic’s garage, a school, a river landing, a dance and theatrical pavilion – all things necessary for a small town were destroyed by industry.”Landry maintained it’s time to say “enough.”
At a time when there is little land left for residential development on the East Bank, she argued Montz has land and it should be used for houses.
“Let us not let industry take that away,” she said. “The future of St. Charles depends on new population – not industry. The response of the citizens of Montz show that they do not want it either.”