Retired Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore said he will demand a public meeting with Sasol and the state Department of Environmental Quality on behalf of Mossville residents.
“A public meeting is a good idea,” Honore told the American Press after a 45-minute presentation to a group of residents and environmental activists Tuesday morning at L’Auberge. “I’ll be contacting DEQ in the next couple of weeks. I’ll demand it.”
Throughout his presentation, Honore stressed the importance of having 21st-century air and water monitoring technology installed at Sasol’s plant. The monitoring, he said, would be done by DEQ and EPA officials so that Sasol executives would be unable to “self-report” their plant’s emissions to state and federal authorities.
Honore said he and a group of environmental activists known as the Green Army plan to submit a bill to the state Legislature that would declare Westlake “a hot zone,” a military designation he uses that would bring areawide health monitoring to the city.
More than once Honore described Sasol as “a foreign company” from South Africa. He said the company’s executives are “big-time oligarchs” who live “in their mansions around the world.”
“You think they’re going to come to Lake Charles?” Honore said. “I want to talk to that CEO, and I want to know what his address is in Mossville. This takes us in Louisiana back 200 years. At least in the days of slavery the damn plantation owner lived on the damn plantation.”
Honore said that while Sasol’s expansion will create thousands of jobs residents need to consider how they can be held “in a safe place.” He cited China as an example of a country that put job creation above everything.
“There are groups over in China telling (the people) to stay inside,” said. “They’ve almost destroyed their drinking water. The idea is if the terrorists came and told you they would give you jobs, would you let them set up camp, if it’s all about jobs? It comes back to that old lesson we all learned in high school: Do the ends justify the means that justify the ends?”
Honore said government officials, particularly the EPA and DEQ, are not protecting the people.
“We give up our freedom when we allow our government because of donations from these companies to our politicians to create laws that allow them to self-regulate,” he said. “We don’t need to be stuck on stupid in Louisiana. We need to hold these people accountable.”
Michael Thomas, Sasol’s vice president of U.S. operations, said that if a public meeting is held, Sasol will participate.
“We’ve already had two very-well attended open houses where people came to learn about our projects,” he added. “We had one-on-one conversations. We had another public meeting with out wetlands permit where, again, there was two-way diologue and questions were asked and answered. Frankly, it’s starts to get where we’ve had several opportunities to have these types of interactions. If another one is required, we will certainly participate.”