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Locations of Gas Plants and Other Coal-tar Sites in the U.S.

THE STATE OF LOUISIANA 

Introduction

            Louisiana’s manufactured gas history is both varied and complicated. Gas was produced at New Orleans as early (1822) as it was in our larger, industrialized cities; the author’s count of its own coal-tar sites currently 20, and the number should prove to be considerably larger.

            The lessons of Hurricane Katrina have enhanced our understanding of the geologic complexities of the soft, youthful, unconsolidated and geomorphically discontinuous soils of the State’s Mississippi River sites. The earliest human remains were discovered (1822) at a depth of 5.5 m bgs in excavation of the gasholder pit of the Locust St. gasworks. New Orleans’ gas company changed hands six times (1907-1917) and the constraints of gas distribution technology makes site characterization a demanding task. Among the out-of-State owners were Stone & Webster(Baton Rouge, Lake Charles) and EBASCO (New Orleans). Town gas plants appear to have been limited to New Orleans (1890 population of 290,000), Shreveport (12,000), Baton Rouge, Lake Charles and Lafayette, as well as Jennings (4,500 in 1920s). Considering the general lack of industry in the pre natural-gas era, the potential for producer gas plants. Outside of New Orleans, is small.

            Louisiana natural gas was first discovered in developable quantities at Sterlington in 1924 and eventually led to termination of most manufactured gas plants by the early 1930s; 1928 for New Orleans.

            Elsewhere in Louisiana, the proximity of wood needing humid-climate preservation brought forth (1895 with a surge at 1900-1910) creosote pressure wood-preservation plants (32 now known; five SUPERFUND NLP), most of which chose direct discharge options for managing their spent impregnation solutions. As in other southern States, once established, with rail connections, other wood preservers tended to put up plants in the same areas.

            Of all U.S. physiographic provinces the geologic terranes of this State are most unfriendly to the current RP trend toward risk-avoidance of comprehensive characterization and realistic remedial action.

Note:   Dr. Hatheway will present this paper at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, at New Orleans, 15-20 September.

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