Relief from Pelican Crossing’s “red dust” dilemma could be on the way

Red dirt piled higher than levee.

With Chairman John Cagnolatti participating to attain a three-member quorum, the Council Strategic Planning Committee took up a persistent problem bedeviling the residents of Pelican Crossing and other nearby subdivisions on Monday.  “Red dust from the mud lake,” one resident painted the picture, “it gets pretty bad during wind storms.”  The dust covers roadways, vehicles and homes and the problem has become more acute recently, leading the committee to recommend a resolution seeking corrective action.

Another Pelican Crossing resident decried remedial measures by DEQ as ineffective.

“I don’t think DEQ’s sprinkler system is getting it done,” opined Jim Robertson.  “The pile has gotten to bigger and is now well above the levee supposed to contain it.”

When the wind kicks up, so does the red dust. (Viewed from Pelican Crossing)

And the problem, existent for half-a-decade or more, worsens all the time.  Robertson urged capping the pile; but who will bear the cost for it and/or whichever measures might be undertaken?

Multiple corporate entities have borne some level of responsibility beginning with Ormet Corporation decades ago.  And, maybe, another corporate entity will bring the solution.

“What I see out there is an absolute tragedy,” declared Joseph Carabba, CEO of ElemenUS Rare Earth & Minerals.

His company has an option on the minerals present in the red mud.  Currently doing “due diligence on extracting minerals out of the red mud…critical minerals” for the nation, Carabba said “our rough estimate is about 15 tons” of mineral contact.  Testing to confirm the estimate will commence forthwith.

Viewed from Hwy 22

Carabba set the timetable for ElmentUS to begin operations, assuming it exercises the mineral option, during the first quarter of 2025.  What relief can be expected in the interim?

He informed the committee (Joel Robert-Chair, Teri Cass and Cagnolatti with three members absent-Alvin “Coach” Thomas, Corey Orgeron and Michael Mason) that an engineering firm specializing in dust abatement has already been contacted.  Nothing definitive, but reason to hope that a solution to the red dust dilemma could be in the offing.

In the meantime, the parish’s legal department has been tasked with drafting a resolution directed to…, well, that was less clear though Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality would seem a likely recipient.  Details can be hashed out as the draft resolution makes its way to the full council.