Cornerstone Chemical sues Jefferson Parish over cyanide plant expansion dispute

By Gabriel Neves | May 13, 2019

WAGGAMAN – One week after having a proposal for expanding a cyanide plant rescinded, Cornerstone Chemical is suing Jefferson Parish.

"The Jefferson Parish Council voted last week to rescind an expansion permit for a controversial cyanide plant in Waggaman [after the Council] voted 6-1 to rescind Cornerstone Chemical's permit for the expansion one year after passing it," according to WDSU.

Cornerstone has been producing hydrogen cyanide for decades, and the company wanted to invest $100 million in expanding its plant near the Louis Armstrong International Airport. Nevertheless, parish residents fought  the proposal, which was defended by only one Council member, Dominick Impastato.

"Through its actions last week, the Council breached the 2018 agreement with the company and we were left with no choice but to litigate to seek the reversal of the council’s decision and ensure our rights are protected,” Cornerstone Chemical senior corporate affairs and communications adviser Jennifer Grigsby told the Louisiana Record via an email statement. "[The company has] worked tirelessly since then to fulfill subsequent information and outreach requests from the council, responded to community and council questions and we sincerely hope that [the council] will act in good faith with us to craft a workable solution to this matter."

Grigsby's statement stated that during the Council session that discussed the proposal, three "areas of concern" were addressed: HCN safety, storage and production.

"Numerous safety reviews by the parish and the company have been conducted to ensure the HCN process is safely managed to minimize risk," the statement said. "Cornerstone installed safety measures and will include water deluge and foam suppression systems and flares, as well as extensive onsite monitoring."

The  expansion had passed unanimously in the Parish Council in 2018.

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