Cavern tied to Sinkhole, Dome may be too close to area

Cavern tied to Sinkhole, Dome may be too close to area by David Mitchell, August 8, 2012, The Advocate
An underground salt cavern viewed as a possible cause of a large slurry area in northern Assumption Parish may be closer to the outer edge of the Napoleonville Dome than its owners originally thought when the cavern got a permit in 1982, officials said Tuesday. If the edge of the cavern is too close, it could have been breached and allowed brine inside to seep up along the edge of the salt dome, possibly feeding the sinkhole that emerged last week near the Bayou Corne community, officials said. … Based on that idea, Madhurendu Kumar, director of the Geological Oil and Gas Division of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, presented a worst-case scenario map showing the maximum zone of soil instability to be 1,400 feet in diameter. … “There were too many unknowns here,” Triche said. The slurry area was found Friday morning after a foul diesel smell spread through the area. For two months prior, earth tremors were reported and natural gas bubbled up from Bayou Corne, Grand Bayou and a nearby water well. … One man asked when a relief well would be drilled to relieve natural gas suspected to be in the aquifer. DNR officials acknowledged natural gas was in the aquifer. Texas Brine President Mark Cartwright said the company is considering drilling a relief well, but added company officials do not know if a well can be effectively located because gas releases from water wells, including one owned by Texas Brine, have been sporadic. … Vickie Guilbeau, 62, eventually had enough. … “What we want to know is how long are we supposed to stay out of our homes and the risk? You can give us a straight answer for that. That is all we want.” John Boudreaux, director of Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, addressed the risk, saying an explosion from a natural gas pocket or from a nearby cavern failing and releasing flammable gas is possible. … Triche responded that until scientists and other officials can tell the parish the risk has been eliminated, all the parish can do is advise residents of the risks with the mandatory order.

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