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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

GRETNA, La. -- It's a sign of the time on the streets of Old Gretna. 'No Coal Trains' yard signs are popping up across the historic West Bank neighborhood.

Community activists gathered Tuesday at a local coffee shop to talk about a proposed coal export terminal down the road in Plaquemines Parish.

'We don't want it,' said Gretna neighbor Linda Sanchez. 'We don't need it. We live here and we are concerned.'

The new terminal would unload coal from river barges and rail cars for processing, before being shipped overseas.

Neighbors complain trains carrying tons of uncovered coal to the proposed facility near Ironton would clog traffic and reduce emergency response times in downtown Gretna.

'The people here have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in buying historic property and restoring it,' said Laurie Ledet. 'We don't want our property values to go down because of a mile-long coal train coming through.'

According to a memo from RAM Terminals, the company estimates up to three trains a week will carry coal to the proposed facility. The project has the backing of Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

'That corridor along the Mississippi River is an economic engine for the state of Louisiana,' said Nungesser. 'As long as they operate those businesses in a safe manner, we need to support them.'

Neighbors are now urging the Gretna City Council to pass a resolution opposing the proposed coal facility. They're also calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to hold a public hearing on the matter.

'We need public hearings where everyone will speak and a representative from each agency will speak,' said Sanchez.

The Gretna City Council is expected to take up the coal terminal matter at next Wednesday's meeting.

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