On March 18, 2014, Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), and Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) filed a suit against United Bulk's coal export terminal in Plaquemines Parish in response to the company's violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The terminal, located on the Mississippi River, has illegally discharged coal and petcoke into the river every day that it has operated for at least five years. These violations have been documented by photographs, video footage and satellite images of piles of United Bulk coal and petroleum coke that generate highly polluting dust and debris. The imagery shows plumes of coal-polluted water spreading into the Mississippi River from the United Bulk terminal.Coal and petcoke – an oil-refining byproduct with high levels of arsenic, mercury and other toxins hazardous to human health and aquatic life – have been discharged into the river in enough quantities to produce visible spills on a regular basis.
The suit seeks civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day per violations of the Clean Water Act. It also asks that a judge prohibit the terminal from "leaking, discharging, or disposing of coal" or petroleum coke into the river. In addition to ordering the terminal to remove any coal or coke in the batture and the river, the suit also requires United Bulk to fund long-term monitoring of remediation efforts and of the terminal's ongoing operations. The company states that they have already invested approximately $40 million in the facility's upgrades.
The groups, represented by Tulane University’s Environmental Law Clinic, are members of the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition (CGCC), which is working to clean-up existing coal terminals in the Gulf Coast region, stop any new coal export terminals, and promote cleaner, safer industries and jobs.
Here's a Louisiana Beyond Coal Organizer on the local news: