Louisiana Case Seeks Clean-Up of Contaminated Lafayette Property

Feb 03, 2016, 11:54 ET from Burn Charest LLP

LAFAYETTE, La., Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Landowners with property surrounding a 40-acre former rail yard in downtown Lafayette have filed a claim seeking to force the former and current owners to clean up the site, saying the area contains a "toxic stew" of hazardous substances threatening the city's drinking water supply.

"This is about protecting our community," says Lafayette attorney William Goodell, who, along with Elizabeth Roché and Korey Nelson of Burns Charest LLP, represents the property owners. "The defendants are legally and morally responsible for addressing the environmental damage to the heart of historic downtown Lafayette."

The plaintiffs, including the local branch of the Salvation Army, contend that soil and shallow groundwater testing show a high level of surface and subsurface contaminants on the property sitting above the Chicot Aquifer, the source of drinking water for the entire city. Despite an Environmental Impact Statement, two prior cases, piecemeal testing, and decades of environmental regulatory agency oversight, the filing says no comprehensive assessment has been ordered or performed on the health dangers and the threat to the aquifer and local community.

The case is supported by the expert report of Dr. Paul Templet, a professor of environmental studies at Louisiana State University and the former Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Dr. Templet concludes that the "soil and groundwater conditions constitute an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment." His report also lists a number of toxic substances, including benzene, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and lead, present at the former rail yard with levels unsafe to human health and the environment.

The claim calls for the defendants, which include Union Pacific Railroad Company, Consolidated Companies Inc. and Southern Pacific Motor Trucking Company, to accept responsibility for the environmental damage, define the extent of the contamination, and develop a mutually agreeable plan and timeline to clean up the site and adjacent areas.

The case is Salvation Army, et al. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., et al., No. 2016-0548-F, in the 15th Judicial District Court in Lafayette.

The plaintiffs are represented by Mr. Goodell of the Goodell Law Firm; Elizabeth Roché and Korey Nelson of Burns Charest LLP in New Orleans; and Lafayette attorneys Gordon Schoeffler and Joseph Joy of Joseph Joy and Associates.

For more information, please contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.


SOURCE Burn Charest LLP