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Tag: assumption parish

Texas firm fined over sinkhole in Louisiana says it’s trying

“It has grown from less than one acre to eight acres. It has also become much shallower, from 490 to 195 feet at the deepest, Cranch said.”


8:27 AM, Dec 3, 2012


BATON ROUGE — Owners of a failed brine storage cavern are doing their best to comply with a state order to quickly resolve problems caused by an eight-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish, spokesman Sonny Cranch said Sunday.

He said Texas Brine Co. lawyers will review a $100,000 fine imposed Saturday by state Conservation Commissioner James Welsh, who said the company hasn’t complied with his Nov. 12 order to speed work.

“We are working as fast as we can to comply with the order,” Cranch said in a phone interview.

The sinkhole began to develop after a Texas Brine salt cavern failed in August. Texas Brine and other companies own at least five other caverns in the Napoleon Salt Dome, which is about three miles long and a mile wide. None of the other caverns is threatened, Cranch said.

Welsh said the company is too slow in three areas: installing air monitors and improved ventilation in slab homes around the sinkhole; installing a system to prevent more waterway contamination; and drilling new vent wells to burn off natural gas.

Residents of 150 Bayou Corne-area homes evacuated in August, after the sinkhole formed. Natural gas was later found in the underground water supply, which Cranch said has never been used for drinking water.

It has grown from less than one acre to eight acres.

It has also become much shallower, from 490 to 195 feet at the deepest, Cranch said.

He said Texas Brine has been using containment boom and absorbent boom from the start, and has skimmed 2,700 barrels of oily water from the surface in the three months since debris was cleared from the edges of the sinkhole.

Cranch said figuring out how to permanently block the sinkhole from other waterways is complex in a swamp, especially since officials don’t yet know how big the sinkhole will get. In the meantime, crews move the boom constantly and skimming continues to make sure oil doesn’t get into any waterways, he said.

“It is being controlled,” Cranch said.

He said the company is also working to find ventilation equipment and air monitors that can be watched at another site, contractors qualified to install them correctly, and landowners’ permission to dig vent wells.




[video] Officials: “Event” has occurred at giant sinkhole — Surface appears covered in thick black oil

Title: Sinkhole Event
Source: Assumption Parish Police Jury
Date: Nov. 27, 2012 at 3:55p ET

An event occurred at the sinkhole around 11:30 pm today which is being considered as a “burp”. Vegetative debris and hydrocarbons came up from below the sinkhole. A few trees in the southwest corner did fall in however most of the debris came from below the sinkhole. Texas Brine removed all crews from the sinkhole and is checking the boom surrounding the area to make sure everything is in tact.

SOURCE: Energy News

Louisiana Sinkhole: Radioactive material handling probed

“In August 1995, Texas Brine considered putting up to 20 cubic feet of NORM in an underground company cavern in the Napoleonville Dome and in another salt dome in Lafourche Parish, according to DEQ and state Office of Conservation records.”


River Parishes bureau

November 27, 2012

State officials are investigating how Texas Brine Co. LLC handled naturally occurring radioactive material in Assumption Parish — where a large sinkhole was found Aug. 3 — and whether it was illegally disposed of inside the Napoleonville Dome in the mid-1990s.

The state Department of Environmental Quality confirmed last week that a 1979 state statute prohibited disposal of naturally occurring radioactive material in large underground salt deposits like the Napoleonville Dome until legislative changes in 1999 made such disposal legal.

“What we’re going to do is investigate this thing the best we can with the information from 1995 and move forward as appropriate,” DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett said.

In August 1995, Texas Brine considered putting up to 20 cubic feet of NORM in an underground company cavern in the Napoleonville Dome and in another salt dome in Lafourche Parish, according to DEQ and state Office of Conservation records.

The Office of Conservation did not object, but it is unclear if Texas Brine followed through on the plans.

Texas Brine officials, in a statement last week, said they did not put NORM in the caverns after making initial regulatory inquiries but it remains on site under a standing DEQ license.

“Since the concentration level of NORM was so low, and the amount of accumulated scale was so small, it was determined to leave the scale in place,” Texas Brine officials said in the statement, which came after the company was told that DEQ concluded NORM disposal in salt domes was illegal in 1995.

The statement contradicts detailed comments from company officials on Aug. 10 that a small amount of NORM was disposed of in the Napoleonville Dome with Office of Conservation approval but that it posed no risk to the public.

The processes involved with oil and gas drilling, along with a variety of other industrial processes such as brine production, can concentrate naturally occurring radioactive isotopes underground at widely varying levels, but sometimes can pose a risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Subsequent testing by DEQ and the EPA has shown that surface radiation in the Bayou Corne area, including in the sinkhole, is not above background levels and poses no risk, state officials have said.

In 1979, the state Legislature prohibited disposal of “radioactive waste or other radioactive material of any nature” in salt domes. The law, which took effect Jan. 1, 1980, arose during controversy over U.S. Department of Energy plans to put high-level radioactive waste, such as from nuclear power plants, in salt domes for long-term storage. Violation of the law includes a requirement to remove the radioactive material.

The salt dome ban for radioactive waste remains in effect, but, in 1999, the Legislature exempted oil and gas exploration and production wastes, which includes NORM, from the statutory definition of “radioactive waste,” DEQ officials said.

Prior to that change, NORM fell under the definition of “radioactive waste” and, therefore, was prohibited from salt dome disposal in 1995, DEQ officials said in an email.

DEQ and the state Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation have dual and sometimes overlapping regulatory authority when it comes to salt domes, oil and gas operations and other matters.

DEQ officials said NORM disposal in a salt dome or a well requires concurrence from DNR and DEQ.

In Aug. 31, 1995, letter, James Welsh, then director of the Office of Conservation’s Injection and Mining Division, gave Texas Brine a no objection letter for NORM disposal in a salt dome. Welsh is now commissioner of the Office of Conservation, which leads DNR’s oversight of the Texas Brine cavern failure.

DNR spokesman Patrick Courreges said the no objection letter for NORM disposal did not authorize its disposal in the salt dome because the Office of Conservation does not have regulatory authority.

“The letter communicated to the company that the Office of Conservation’s governing statutes and rules contained no prohibition for the activity and that the Office of Conservation did not regulate NORM activities,” Courreges wrote.

Courreges wrote that the Office of Conservation regulations apply to “the mechanics of safely operating the well and cavern” but NORM falls under DEQ regulations.

In a subsequent, Sept. 20, 1995, letter, Texas Brine Environmental, Health and Safety Manager Scott Whitelaw asked DEQ for authority to dispose of NORM in the salt dome caverns.

DEQ’s Mallett said that no formal denial letter is in agency records but telephone logs show that DEQ officials told the company it was not granting authority and to wait on disposal.

“In our records, they never asked again,” he said.

On Aug. 10 in Ascension Parish, Bruce Martin, vice president of Texas Brine operations, said a small amount of pipe scale had fallen outside of the Oxy Geismar No. 3 well head during workovers.

Scientists have said they believe the Napoleonville Dome cavern — now known as Oxy Geismar Well No. 3 — had a major wall failure that resulted in the sinkhole and in the release of oil and methane in the Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne areas, which have been evacuated.

Testing of the pipe scale found the dirt had a radioactivity of 20 to 40 micro-rems per hour, Martin said.

The standard at the time for specialized management of the NORM was above 20 micro-rems per hour, though that standard has since been raised to 50 micro-rems per hour, Martin said.

“So the end result is, we submitted a request to DNR to place this material, this normally occurring radioactive material, that was actually about a little bit less than a cubic yard, to place it back in the well where it came from, back into the earth,” Martin said.

“And DNR granted us that request. We did that work. That material was solid dirt, dirt with some NORM in it, and it was placed in the bottom of the well, and it would be my guess and firm belief that that’s where it sits today.”

Talking points distributed that day also said NORM was in the cavern and posed no risk.

Sonny Cranch, spokesman for Texas Brine, said last week that officials “misspoke” then in their attempt to respond to questions about NORM and that it was never put in the cavern.



SOURCE: The Advocate

Louisiana’s Bayou Corne Sinkhole Reaches Historic Proportions

“The massive sinkhole now has an estimated size of between 6.2 and 7 acres, stretching about 1 by 3 miles, and it is approximately 111 feet deep.”


By Paul Darin
Epoch Times Staff

Louisiana’s massive sinkhole, near Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou, continues to pose a serious problem for officials and responders. Texas Brine Company LLC, the company many officials blame for the collapse of caverns in the Napoleonville Salt Dome leading to the growing sinkhole, disputes any blame, while officials are seeking monetary compensation—and gases continue to leak out.

Emergency managers issued an evacuation order for 150 homes in the Bayou Corne area on Aug. 3 due to the sinkhole’s growing activity. The evacuation is still in effect.

The massive sinkhole now has an estimated size of between 6.2 and 7 acres, stretching about 1 by 3 miles, and it is approximately 111 feet deep.

“The outer edge of the salt dome, best we can tell, is gone,” said Dr. Gary Hecox, geologist with Shaw Environmental, according to the Examiner. Hecox was contracted by the state of Louisiana.

The sinkhole is believed to be caused by a failed cavern wall in the western-edge caverns under the Napoleonville Salt Dome owned by Texas Brine. The collapse triggered a chain-reaction of collapses, which continued to grow throughout much of autumn.

“The pressure of the brine got so much, essentially you had a fracking-out of the brine going all the way up to the surface,” explained Hecox. “That’s why you have a collapse and fracturing all the way to the surface.”

The collapse has triggered additional effects, including the release of underground natural gas, crude oil, and methane. Texas Brine is currently flaring off the escaped methane gas via relief wells, while officials are calling for more methane testing.

“[The collapse] went right on the side of the salt dome, because that’s where the rocks in the formation are the weakest,” Hecox continued. “The rocks coming down were increasing the pressure in the brine until the frack-out.”

Texas Brine contends that the collapse of their cave was due to additional seismic activity in the area, and that the loss of integrity was somewhere other than in their leased caverns.

The caverns where the collapse happened were being used by gas and oil companies for storage.

“We feel we have been pretty accurate in the past, and in the past, we have concurred with the parish’s assessment. We just disagree in this particular case,” Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said when discussing the controversial size of the sinkhole, according to the Examiner.

The company has been the longtime operator of the sealed and abandoned Oxy Geismar Well No. 3 located on the collapse site.

In early November, Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell issued a letter to Texas Brine and cavern owner Occidental Chemical Corporation, demanding payment for emergency responses and state involvement in the amount of $3.47 million. Caldwell demanded immediate payment within 30 days or legal action will be taken.

Response costs totaling $3,474,593 had been charged from June 19 through Nov. 8, according to Caldwell.

Official response costs continue to increase, costing the state more dollars as a “mini-village” of state and parish officials set up a command post south of Louisiana Highway 70, where agencies continue to test air and water quality and where gases continue to escape from the sinkhole.

“As evidenced above, the State of Louisiana has incurred substantial costs in response to the Bayou Corne incident and in the continued investigation of the repercussions of the sink hole caused by the collapse of the Oxy Geismar No. 3 Well cavern owned operated by Texas Brine and Occidental,” Caldwell said in his letter, according to The Advocate.

As officials continue to work on the problematic sinkhole, evacuees continue to remain out of their homes. Dangers of the sinkhole include the possibility of gas explosion from the trapped and leaking gases, as well as the potential for poisoning from the gases.


[video] Louisiana Sinkhole Grows to 8 Acres

“Evidence has now surfaced that the Louisiana sinkhole has grown to over eight acres with “ridiculous” amounts of oil outside the hole.”


1:15 PM Andre Heath

November 17, 2012 – LOUISIANA, UNITED STATES – In the following excerpts from The Advocate, the Assumption Parish Situation Summary and the informal meeting of Bayou Corne Resident Meeting with Louisiana State Representatives; evidence has now surfaced that the Louisiana sinkhole has grown to over eight acres with “ridiculous” amounts of oil outside the hole.

Officials said that the gas freed by the cavern collapse now poses an uncertain risk to Bayou Corne residents who have been evacuated from their residences for more than three months. Meanwhile, officials have called for in-home air monitoring and specialized detectors and ventilation systems for slab-foundation homes. The evacuation order, affecting about 150 homes in the Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne communities, was issued within hours of the discovery of the sinkhole, though the presence of the gas now provides another reason to keep the order in place, parish officials have said The sinkhole, which now has an 8-acre surface area, is located in swamps between the communities south of La. 70 on property leased by Texas Brine from Occidental Chemical Corp. Boudreaux provided estimates showing the three vent wells had released 558,000 cubic feet of gas through Friday morning. An investigatory well that the Office of Conservation ordered Texas Brine to drill months ago to peer inside its failed cavern has burned another 598,000 cubic feet of gas through early Friday. Combined with the three vent wells, the four wells have removed nearly 1.2 million cubic feet of gas, the figures show. – The Advocate.

As of the 13th of November, the mandatory evacuation is still in effect… Texas Brine has removed 123 roll off boxes hydrocarbon contaminated debris and approximately 1900 Barrels of hydrocarbons from the surface of the sinkhole… USGS estimates the sources of seismic activity to be between 200 and 600 meters deep… In response to Texas Brine’s assertion that region seismic activity caused their cavern to be compromised, USGS stated (on 25 Sept. 2012) that it is their belief that the seismicity is a consequence of the collapse of the cavern, and not the cause of the collapse of the cavern and the formation of the sinkhole… – Assumption Parish Situation Summary [PDF].

In the following video of the informal meeting of Bayou Corne Resident Meeting with Louisiana State Representatives, the following extract can be heard at 35 minutes into the broadcast:
Resident: I done a flyover and I took some video there. That hole is — the oil outside of the boom of that thing is ridiculous. Why isn’t the EPA involved in that?

Rep. Karen St. Germaine: They are.

Resident: … That swamp water is contaminated behind those peoples’ houses. No doubt in my mind the swamp is contaminated.
WATCH: Bayou Corne Resident Meeting.





Sinkhole – 10 Ago 2012

Sinkhole – 15 Nov 2012