Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tiger Pipeline construction stopped by cemetery in path

FRIERSON, La. – Construction of a major pipeline project that just got under way has been brought to a halt after the contractor encountered a 150-year old cemetery in its path.
The Tiger Pipeline is a 42-inch natural gas pipeline that will stretch 175 miles across North Louisiana, from Carthage, Texas, to the eastern edge of Richland Parish.
Construction is just getting under way on the $1 billion project, but work in DeSoto Parish is at a standstill after the discovery of what the company calls an "unexpected burial site."
The owner of the land granted Energy Transfer Partners right-of-way access across his 800 acres of pasture in Frierson.
Reggie Rowe says also he warned them of the hilltop cemetery, "but they come in here after I told them not to come in here and knocked the tombstones over."
Rowe says there were five stone markers at the site, which used to be surrounded by a small wrought iron fence and filled with wildflowers. "According to the monuments and the names, it was a family of five: husband, wife and three kids. One of them was a one-year-old baby."
Rowe says the dates on the markers ranged from 1864 to 1907, and belonged to members of the Lafitte family. "There are still a lot of Lafittes in DeSoto Parish."
The company building the Tiger Pipeline says there was no mention of the cemetery in any of the records searched by the company as they planned the route.
"When beginning to clear the right of way, a headstone was detected and work was stopped immediately," explains Vicki Anderson Granado of Granado Communications Group, a Dallas-based public relations firm contracted by Energy Transfer Partners.
Granado says the company has called in the services of an archeologist to ensure it could determine the boundaries of the cemetery so the route of the pipeline could be altered." As of June 9, the archaeologist had counted 10 graves.
"The family was marked with tombstones and the rest of the people were buried around them with just wooden crosses, and that's why they're finding more graves than what was marked," explains Rowe.
Granado says, "The company will do everything it can to repair any disturbance to the cemetery and regrets that this situation ever came about."

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