In a vote of four to one, Jefferson Parish’s Planning Advisory Board (PAB) voted Thursday, Nov. 2 to approve explosives maker Dyno Nobel’s special permitted use request to construct a new boiler for its ammonia plant within the 800-acre Cornerstone Chemical Complex in Waggaman.
The decision on the new boiler amendment had been postponed in both September and October’s Planning Advisory Board meetings before finally being approved in last week’s meeting. The special use permit amendment will now be placed before the Jefferson Parish Council for final approval on Dec. 6.
The Cornerstone Chemical Complex sits immediately east of the St. Charles and Jefferson Parish line.
The approval of the Jefferson Parish PAB zoning request did not come without controversy. Jefferson Parish officials acknowledged the special use construction permit was approved this past week, with the public knowledge that the boilers had already been constructed by Dyno Nobel earlier this year.
Reports earlier this year surrounding Louisiana Department of Environmental Air Quality (LDEQ) air permits with the proposed boilers indicated use of the boilers could bring an expected increase in the facility’s current sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by as much as 25 percent, which some local activists raised alarms over.
Dyno Nobel was fined last month by the LDEQ after it was disclosed Dyno Nobel had already built a $27 million boiler at its Waggaman ammonia plant without the proper air permits. The fine LDEQ officials settled on, just $1,725, was considered by some Jefferson Parish area politicians and local environmental activists to be an understated response.
“The penalty is not sufficient to discourage and prevent other applicants from building now and paying a small penalty later,” River Ridge resident Lisa Karlin, a member of the local Harahan/River Ridge Air Quality group, wrote in a letter to state regulators in response to the fine.
Despite Dyno Nobel admitting to state regulators in a letter dated March 17 to prematurely building the boiler without proper air permits, Dyno Nobel nor LDEQ appeared to mention the boiler had already been built when regulators held a meeting on March 21 to gather public input on the proposed air permit.
In a later statement, management at Dyno Nobel said the pre-mature construction was an oversight. A subsequent review conducted by LDEQ found no evidence Dyno Nobel attempted to conceal the violation.
“Dyno Nobel regrets the oversight and has improved project management processes to ensure future LDEQ permitting experiences meet all requirements,” a Dyno Nobel spokesperson said in an official company statement reported last month.
According to its website, Dyno Nobel is an international company with 32 manufacturing facilities on three continents. It markets itself as a global leader in the commercial explosives industry, and currently employs over 3,770 employees worldwide.