[StBernard] Warrant Issued For Man Accused In SDT Dumping

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Mar 18 21:09:01 EDT 2009

Warrant Issued For Man Accused In SDT Dumping
Torres Speaks To Council About SDT Dumping
POSTED: 10:03 am CDT March 18, 2009
UPDATED: 7:12 pm CDT March 18, 2009

NEW ORLEANS -- Investigators in St. Bernard Parish said they've issued a
warrant for the arrest of a man in connection with the theft of an SDT Waste
and Disposal truck that allegedly dumped waste into a Lower Ninth Ward storm
drain last weekend.

The warrant was issued for an ex-employee of SDT, 32-year-old Phillip
Barbarin, for alleged unauthorized use of a vehicle taken from the Chalmette
company on March 14.

The warrant doesn't cover the actual dumping of the waste. An investigation
is continuing into whether others were involved in the taking of a pump

St. Bernard sheriff's detectives planned to meet Wednesday with state and
federal officials about the dumping incident.

Police said Barbarin had been questioned by sheriff's detectives and
released early Wednesday but became a suspect when he was allegedly tied to
a cell phone number given to a local television station when someone tried
to sell a copy of a video of the dumping incident

Meanwhile, SDT owner Sidney Torres told City Council members Tuesday that he
believes that Barbarin was also involved in a similar dumping in City Park
last October.

"The last thing that I want to do is have a truck out there pumping human
waste in storm drains or the sewage system," Torres told council members.

Torres was strongly chastised by the council's Sanitation Committee for the

"This can't happen again, under any circumstance," said Council Member Arnie

And Council Member Shelley Midura said she wasn't threatening to end Torres'
contract with the city, but she urged him to put better safety procedures in

"We need a company that doesn't do this," she said. "If there are other
companies out there, maybe that's an option."

Video of the illegal dumping activity was offered to at least two local
television stations. Sunday morning, someone screened the tape for employees
of WDSU, then left with the tape.

During a phone conversation later that same day, an unidentified individual
discussed selling the rights to the tape. WDSU declined.

Torres has repeatedly claimed that his company is being cast in a bad light
by disgruntled current or former employees.

When contacted about the Lower Ninth Ward incident last Sunday, Torres
provided company security video and GPS data that showed someone taking a
truck without authorization Saturday night, then returning it to SDT

The vehicle was left outside the gated area with the lights on and the key
still in the ignition.

Torres filed a report with the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office and says
he has been participating in its investigation.

"It's apparent it was a setup," St. Bernard Sheriff Jack Stephens said in a
statement released Wednesday morning.

During his appearance before the council Wednesday, Torres said a fence at
the yard where the trucks are kept was not shut the night of the dumping.

"We're gonna start shutting it, and we're looking to put someone in the yard
to watch yard at night," Torres said.

Committee chairwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis and City Council Vice President
Arnie Fielkow requested the appearance because of their concerns about
several reported incidents of illegal waste disposal in New Orleans.

Environmental experts are testing samples of the waste, recovered from the
intersection of Alabo and North Johnson Streets. They are investigating the
impact the sludge may have on Lake Pontchartrain and the local neighborhood.

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