Community leaders from Ironton filed comments opposing the air permit application for the Tallgrass oil export terminal. The project, a joint venture between Tallgrass Energy LP, Drexel-Hamilton, and the Port of Plaquemines, is slated for construction in Plaquemines Parish at the site of the former St Rosalie plantation. The proposed oil export terminal would be built next to Ironton, a historic Black community whose residents say their ancestors were laid to rest at St Rosalie. If Tallgrass moves forward, Ironton leaders fear the desecration of these burial grounds.
“I had grandparents, uncles, and aunts that lived at St Rosalie. I have family buried there,” said Pearl Sylve, a lifelong resident of Ironton. She was distressed to learn that ELOS, a company hired by Tallgrass, had disturbed historic burial grounds during the course of a survey of the St Rosalie site. “ELOS should not have touched the cemeteries.”
“My ancestors are buried at St Rosalie,” wrote Reverend Haywood Johnson, Jr, pastor at Ironton’s Saint Paul Missionary Baptist church. “I’m deeply disturbed by what has happened and will happen to these burial grounds if Tallgrass builds their export terminal.”
His sentiments were echoed by other community leaders who shared a concern for the cemeteries and a frustration that Ironton has been repeatedly targeted for industrial development. “First it was RAM [coal terminal] that wanted to come in and ruin the environment,” wrote Leverne Black. “People deserve to breathe clean air, not odors and chemicals.”
“We have our families here, our homes here, our kids here . . . we already have a grain elevator that releases dust. There is already a refinery here. Many people get cancer and sickness from that,” said Wilke DeClouet. “Tallgrass has no regard for our community. They wouldn’t build in Belle Chasse and put a tank farm on the Catholic Cemetery there, so why here?”
“Tallgrass’s draft air permit violates Louisiana law,” said Mike Brown, attorney with Earthjustice who is working on the Tallgrass case. “The facility would be far more toxic than Tallgrass admits, including its emissions of cancer causing benzene. LDEQ fails to account for the harm from air pollution to the nearby communities of Ironton, Phoenix, Myrtle Grove and Wood Park.”
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) is currently reviewing Tallgrass’ air permit application.