La. Bucket Brigade raises environmental concerns over Venture Global

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2022

By Ranna Hebert

Residents surrounding Venture Global’s Calcasieu Pass Facility say they are concerned over what they claim are underreported accidents and the express rate of construction likely causing dangerous environmental hazards and preventable gas releases.

James Hiatt, the Southwest Louisiana coordinator of Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and John Allaire, a former environmental engineer who once worked in the oil and gas industry for 35 years and whose property is less than a mile from the facility, said they have documented various events that have happened since the Calcasieu Pass facility began liquifying gas and exporting it in January.
Part of the “operations problems” at Calcasieu Pass are demonstrated by “near-constant flaring,” they said.

The two said flaring is an emergency mechanism used to burn off waste gases and the flare “should be used rarely, yet CP uses its flare almost constantly.”

Allaire said the flaring occurred for 84 out of 90 days between Jan. 27 and April 27. He said the flaring occurred at night and during peak neo-tropical bird migration season — despite Calcasieu Pass’s environmental impact statement claims that “during normal operating conditions and regularly scheduled maintenance events, to the extent feasible, Venture Global Calcasieu Pass would avoid flaring at night, during low visibility conditions, and during peak migration seasons.”

In addition to the overwhelming flare time, Allaire said incidents occurring at Venture Global stay underreported. He said, “flaring has occurred for 68 percent of the time the facility has been in operation,” yet Calcasieu Pass filed no reports. Moreover, the facility has miscalculated its releases, the pair claim.

Hiatt claims this raises questions and concerns regarding Venture Global like, “what are they hiding? Was the facility built properly? Did Venture Global prioritize speed over safety?”

“Every time we see black smokey flares we know that those gases are not being fully burned,” Hiatt said. “We know this means that our community and our children will have to breathe even more toxic air.”

Shreyas Vasudevan, a campaign researcher and writer for Louisiana Bucket Brigade, said four of the facility’s “five accident reports have been revised.”

LDEQ is not enforcing permits but is instead increasing them to meet the needs of gas-export companies, Hiatt said.

“The LDEQ continues to issue facility air and water discharge permits but is not enforcing the permit conditions,” he said.

In response to these allegations, Venture Global LNG — which has 12 more facilities set for construction — declined the opportunity to make a statement or comment.