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HOUMA Clarice Friloux knows what it's like to have oil in her backyard. She's lived near oilfield waste pits, or 'cells' as the industry calls them, since the 1980s, when an oil-treatment yard moved into Grand Bois.

Now she sees the entire coast facing a similar future.

'I'm just hoping they're aware of what's coming,' said Friloux, 44, who led her community's fight against the nearby U.S. Liquids on the Bourg-Larose Highway. 'I wouldn't wish this on anyone.'

Fortunately for Grand Bois residents, the facility is not receiving any oily water or waste from the spill, according to BP's waste-management plan, U.S. Liquids executives and several spill officials.

But the oilfield waste has to go somewhere. And Friloux and other residents and chemists are concerned about how the sludge, rags and oily boom are handled and whether they will cause health problems like those Grand Bois residents have claimed.

Existing landfills and oil-treatment facilities across the Gulf Coast are taking in collected oil from BP's yet-to-be-plugged well. The leak, which followed the April 20 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion that killed 11 rig workers, spewed millions of gallons of oil into Gulf waters.

Collection totals are being reported to the top federal environmental agency, but BP cleanup officials would not release that information this week. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not released that information either, said Wilma Subra, a New Iberia chemist and environmental activist.

But some data about specific landfills has been made public. For instance, as of Wednesday, Colonial Landfill in Sorrento had received 1,910 tons of solid waste, Tidewater Landfill in Venice had nearly 780 tons and River Birch Landfill in Avondale had accumulated 28 tons. That equals more than 5 million pounds of waste to those three landfills alone.

Leonard Crame, BP's waste-management group leader at the Houma command center, said no hazardous material has been collected.

What regulators consider hazardous, however, has been scrutinized by residents and environmental activities for years.

'Just because it came from oil-and-gas production doesn't mean it's not hazardous,' Friloux said.

DISPERSANTS IN THE WASTE

One of Subra's concerns, she said, is whether treatment facilities and landfills are prepared to properly treat oily booms and wastewaters. The disposal sites, for instance, may not have a water-discharge permit that includes monitoring for the specific chemicals in the Corexit-brand dispersants used to break down the oil slicks at sea.

'Any of this oil, whether it's been on the surface, whether skimmed or picked up on booms, will have potential to have dispersants and crude oil,' Subra said.

The dispersants, Corexit 9527 and 9500, have never been applied in such large quantities and company officials admitted this week that they lack scientific testing at the depths now being used.

The oil companies know what is in Corexit, said Mike Bushman, spokesman for the dispersant manufacturer, earlier this week.

'It's primarily soaps, and it degrades relatively rapidly,' Bushman said, adding that Corexit begins to breakdown within four days and is almost entirely degraded within a month.

RECLAIMING OIL

BP-contracted companies and cleanup workers are recovering as much oil as possible to be reused and recycled, Coast Guard and state officials have said.

'It's in their best interest to reclaim it and use it as product because disposal options are very expensive,' said Sam Phillips, solid-waste permits administrator at the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Oil that can be reused, mainly the crude skimmed and collected near the spill site, is going to refineries and facilities that take exploration and production wastes, according to the Houma command center's waste-management plan. These sites are APEX Environmental in Theodore, Ala.; United Environmental Services in Baytown, Texas; PSC Industrial Outsourcing in Jeanerette; Aaron Oil in Saraland, Ala.; and BP's Texas City refinery, site of the 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured more than 150 others.

THE EVOLVING PLAN

A waste-management plan was put together shortly after the April 20 explosion, by state and federal officials and oil-spill responders.

'We had the same concerns: what's going to happen when this hits,' Phillips said.

The latest waste-management plan, updated earlier this week, shows more landfills and treatment facilities on the list to receive waste than in the May version.

Solid wastes, such as tar balls, oily soil, rags and gloves, are going to five landfills, all in Louisiana: Colonial in Sorrento, Jefferson Davis Parish Landfill in Welch, River Birch in Avondale, Tidewater in Venice and Waste Management in Westwego. The solid wastes also include absorbent and hard boom, which has had oil removed to the greatest extent possible. Waste Management's Pecan Grove Landfill in Pass Christian, Miss., is listed as 'pending,' meaning it has not yet received any spill-related waste. Dead wildlife is being shipped to landfills in Venice, Sorrento and Welch, the plan says.

These landfills, Phillips said, are 'by far the safest way to handle the material.' They have double liners, a collection system to catch leaking oil and groundwater monitoring.

While the Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing waste taken to landfills, the state Department of Natural Resources is overseeing how liquid wastes are handled.

Oily wash-water, a byproduct of cleaning booms and other equipment, is going to New Park Environmental's transfer facilities in Fourchon, Venice and Morgan City, with others pending approval, according to the plan.

New Park's barges are taking their wastewater to Port Arthur, Texas, where it's offloaded and sent to injection wells in that state, said Patrick Courreges, Department of Natural Resources spokesman. According to the company's website, it owns a 50-acre injection-well facility in Big Hill and a 400-acre site near Fannett, Texas, the primary facility for disposing of exploration and production waste.

PSC Industrial Outsourcing in Jeanerette is also receiving oily liquids, he said.

Contractors hired by BP to clean up the oil, namely Heritage Environmental Services, are separating waste into appropriate containers at staging areas, Phillips said. DEQ is monitoring that process.

'It is the responsibility of the generator, in this case BP and contractors, to characterize the waste,' Phillips said.

Heritage's office staff said the company has no-comment policy 'for the duration of this project.' A representative did confirm the firm is under contract with BP.

Even though agencies are overseeing the disposal, Jonathan Foret, a 33-year-old Bourg resident and grant writer, said he's still concerned the spill's legacy will be a high concentration of oily waste in landfills and treatment facilities.

'I want all these people to have the big picture to make informed judgements that will protect us,' Foret said of lawmkers and others. 'The disposal of this stuff should be a priority.'

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