Pre-construction activities begin at the Greenfield site; Temporary barring order refused – L’Observateur

WALLACE – Pre-construction activities, including pile driving, began this week at the site of a planned $400 million grain elevator in Wallace.

Last Friday, Judge J. Sterling Snowdy denied a request by local nonprofit The Descendants Project to issue a temporary restraining order against Greenfield Louisiana LLC.

Twin sisters Jo and Joy Banner, founders of The Descendants Project, continue their efforts to stifle grain terminal development through a lawsuit against St. John the Baptist Parish challenging the zoning of the property for industrial use.

Joy Banner said last week’s hearing was an attempt to protect potential burial grounds of enslaved ancestors from pre-construction activities at the Greenfield site, located near Whitney Plantation.

Environmental justice advocate and researcher Imani Jaqueline Brown was present via video chat during last week’s hearing. Since primary source documents from the pre-war period often did not include spatial information, Brown used historical aerial photographs and a process called map regression to identify topographic features within a 60 kilometer area. . This process was used in 2020 to identify the presence of cemeteries at the Formosa Plastic site in St. James Parish.

“What we understood was that in the decades following the Civil War, the topographic features of the plantations seemed to disappear,” Brown said.

Brown added that the groves of trees have been associated with the presence of pre-war cemeteries in the region, and this form of burial practice can be considered a pan-African tradition.

“When we look at historic aerial photographs of this area, we are able to see where groups of trees were that were cut down,” Brown said.

Greenfield Louisiana’s attorney argued that the construction site does not overlap with any of the topographic anomalies identified in Brown’s research. According to Greenfield Louisiana, archaeological studies conducted within a 1-mile radius of the site have not identified any ancestral burial sites that could be impacted by the construction project.

“The court’s decision is a victory for the residents of the parish who will benefit from the jobs, opportunities, commitment and income that Greenfield will bring to the community,” said Louis E. Buatt, legal counsel for Greenfield Louisiana.

The Greenfield Louisiana export grain facility is expected to receive grain primarily by barge and export grain by ocean-going vessels. No new stacks will be built and the facility will not process crude oil, natural gas or chemicals.

According to Greenfield, the development of the terminal will create 100 direct local jobs and 500 indirect jobs.

“This was just another procedural attempt by a few to delay a project that should have immense benefits for the community,” Buatt said.

The Banner sisters and attorney Pam Spees of the Center for Constitutional Rights still believe in the potential of cemeteries at the Greenfield site, saying the unmarked graves were a byproduct of the oppressive system of slavery. Spees further noted that Greenfield did not allow the complainants access to the site.

Joy Banner said the denial of the temporary restraining order made her fight even harder.

“We have asked the Corps of Engineers to issue a cease and desist,” she said. “We are still encouraged by our trial. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to prevent the destruction of any antiquities and graves that may be on this site. »

Sara H. Byrd