Baton Rouge court to hear suit over salt water well construction

Lawsuits related to building projects can arise in a number of different contexts. Sometimes issues arise while a project is underway, such as disputes over contract obligations or design specifications. Other challenges, such as construction defect complaints, may arise only after a project has been completed. Increasingly, with the proliferation of environmental, safety and zoning regulation over the past few decades, construction litigation may commence during the planning stages of a project.

A permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources is at the center of a lawsuit filed on January 9 in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge. Several owners of property outside the city of Rayne are seeking to vacate a permit authorizing the construction of a commercial injection well for the disposal of salt water.

The group of plaintiffs includes landowners, farmers and at least one community activist. They oppose the construction of the injection well over concerns that salt water may contaminate the Chicot Aquifer, which provides the only source of drinking water and irrigation for nearby landowners.

The plaintiffs say that the DNR failed to consider less risky alternatives to the proposed construction project and well location. They share concerns expressed at a public hearing that any leakage from the well site may threaten crawfish, soybean and rice production operations on properties surrounding the proposed well site. They have asked the court to impose a temporary stay on permit issuance until the construction litigation can be resolved.

A representative for the permittee, La Tank company of Lake Charles, said that the project site is not located near the aquifer and noted that the well would be drilled to a depth of 4,600 feet. The Department of Natural Resources offered no comment on the pending lawsuit.

Given that the outcome of the litigation will most likely depend on the court’s interpretation of contradictory expert testimony, all parties involved will need to depend on experienced legal counsel to present their cases effectively.

Source: The Advocate, “Suit filed over proposed injection well,” Joe Gyan, Jr., Jan. 13, 2013