Sinkhole: “Declaration of Emergency” to ensure public safety after shallow gas pockets found near edge of Napoleonville Salt Dome

Published: September 15th, 2012 at 3:45 pm ET


Title: Office of Conservation Orders New Testing for Napoleonville Salt Dome Operators, Hires Contractor to Act on Ground Water Monitoring/Venting Plan
Source: Department of Natural Resources
Date: September 14, 2012
Emphasis Added

Information from newly drilled monitoring wells provides guidance for action

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh announced today that he has ordered all companies operating on the Napoleonville Salt Dome to immediately begin work to assess the presence of natural gas in both the ground water aquifer and the salt dome cap rock beneath their operations; capture, vent or flare any natural gas that is encountered; and analyze any potential impacts to ground water in the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer.

Welsh asked the Shaw Group [Shaw’s ties to nuclear industry here and here] to oversee the evaluation of natural gas concentrations in the ground water aquifer and to oversee the removal of any natural gas found through venting or other means.

Welsh said he issued the order to dome operators as part of a formal Declaration of Emergency and Directive to ensure public safety following the Office of Conservation’s discovery of two shallow pockets of natural gas in an area between the western edge of the Napoleonville Salt Dome and the Bayou Corne community. A contractor hired by the Office of Conservation drilled monitoring wells to sample for natural gas, and encountered the natural gas pockets at a depth of less than 50 feet from surface on Thursday.

This discovery comes as Conservation staff analyzed new data from Texas Brine LLC’s report to the Office of Conservation. The data indicated pockets of natural gas within the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer and the cap rock above the salt dome. That data came after DNR ordered Texas Brine to evaluate belowground conditions. Part of Texas Brine’s effort to comply with that order included the drilling of a shallow well to house seismic equipment in addition to the deeper well intended to enter the abandoned salt cavern.

Texas Brine’s shallow seismic well, drilled to about 465 feet, encountered natural gas near the top of the ground water aquifer at about 120 feet deep, and again within the salt dome cap rock at about 420 feet deep.

“This is the reason that the Office of Conservation ordered Texas Brine to take steps to evaluate the belowground conditions near its operation and the reason we have hired contractors and negotiated with land owners to get observation wells drilled near the Bayou Corne community. This will help us gather information that gives a clearer understanding of potential threats to public safety and what the underlying causes are,” Welsh said. “This new data indicates the presence of natural gas in the aquifer and cap rock near the existing salt dome operations, and the Office of Conservation is ordering immediate action to assess that risk and take actions where necessary.”

Welsh said that, while the Office of Conservation had already begun the effort to assess the presence of natural gas nearer the Bayou Corne community by hiring two drilling contractors to drill wells for sampling and venting, he is actively seeking to accelerate those efforts with a solicitation this week to any companies with the necessary equipment to drill these water wells.

That solicitation, as well as the Shaw Group contract for overall evaluation and remediation of natural gas in the ground water aquifer in the area, followed Office of Conservation review of data from the most recent monitoring.

h/t Anonymous tip

Published: September 15th, 2012 at 3:45 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Sinkhole: Officials concerned gas has entered Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer — New well to be drilled near salt dome September 6, 2012
  2. Problem at ANOTHER cavern in salt dome near giant Louisiana sinkhole — “Automatic emergency systems” engaged — No ‘immediate’ safety risk to public July 18, 2013
  3. New sinkhole image shows ‘original edge’ of Napoleonville salt dome may be gone — Section thousands of feet tall (PHOTO) November 15, 2012
  4. Multiple gas pockets hit around sinkhole, operation halted — Officials order ‘immediate action’ to assess risk — “New data indicates gas is in aquifer” September 14, 2012
  5. Officials: Sinkhole could grow to 1,400 feet across — “Unusual” it’s on edge of giant salt dome, normally right on top August 16, 2012

12 comments to Sinkhole: “Declaration of Emergency” to ensure public safety after shallow gas pockets found near edge of Napoleonville Salt Dome

  • jackassrig

    The Shaw Group. More nuclear bums.

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    Not a word about any benzene, hydrogen or the radioactive waste leaking into the aquifer.

    I would think if one product is leaking, why not the rest?

    Big salt dome explosion in '92, with lots of safety issues:

  • jackassrig

    In the old days Stone and Webster was a fine E&C company. For some reason they became unable to continue as a viable company. It seems to me Stoned and Wasted started downhill after Comanche Peak. So eventually Shaw bought them. Probably Stoned and Wasted continues as Shaw. I also saw this happen with Transocean. Transocean was responsible in part to the Macondo well blowout. Transocean bought Santa Fe drilling and Global Marine. Global Marine was responsible for the sinking of the drill ship Java Sea-the third worst drilling disaster in drilling history. The Java Sea was the worst US drilling disaster. The Java Sea disaster killed I believe 83 men. Santa Fe drilling was not an example to follow in drilling. Global Marine was a disaster. So Transocean buys these clunkers and what happens the Macondo well blowout. I suspect Global Marine and Santa Fe drilling are still operating under another name. Continental Airlines was responsible for the demise of the Concorde. So what happens United buys Continental out. No one goes to jail. No one is responsible for the killed men and passengers. The psychopaths change the company name and go as usual. It’s the American way.

  • Sickputer

    The Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer is 32,000 square miles and in seven states.

    A nice description and map here:


    Due to the large amount of agricultural land use major environmental concerns include surface water and groundwater pollution from non-point sources, specifically pesticides and fertilizers. Approximately 33 million pounds of pesticides are placed on land in the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer region each year (Gonthier, 1998).

    Map of the thickness:

    SP: So are they worried about natural gas contaminating the aquifer or maybe a huge explosion destroying large sections of the roof? Probably both. If it did explode the consequences would be Hollywood spectacular and devastating to residents.

    • andagi andagi

      Dear Sickputer,
      'The Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer is 32,000 square miles and in seven states.'
      Thanks, I've been wondering about this.

  • Radio VicFromOregon

    Really…they couldn't possible have used the salt dome as a dump/underground storage without already knowing about the natural gas. If they did and ignored it, then some geologist was paid to look the other way. The sinkhole occurring shows these guys with their pants down and now they are trying to look legit. If, on the other hand, dumping/storage of nuclear and other hazardous waste is acceptable without a geological study of the area, then the graft goes deeper than the sinkhole itself. I find it impossible to believe that the finding of natural gas in an area where fracking takes place is a surprise finding.

  • harengus_acidophilus

    Drilling to get a clue?
    Sounds stupid, like drilling holes in the top of a steamer
    to check his pressure resistance.

    pffffft, h.

    • Sickputer

      Test wells are usually pretty safe when properly ventilated. An interesting fact about fossil methane gas pockets is they don't explode at high levels of concentration. Here's a good article about Montrose, Pennsylvannia residents who have been affected by fracking:

      "A flammable gas, methane can pose a fire or explosion risk when it escapes from water and becomes trapped in enclosed spaces.
      The atmosphere in the open gap in Manning’s water well was 82 percent methane during a recent DEP test, she said – too rich to pose an explosion risk, she was told.

      Methane is generally explosive at a concentration of between 5 and 15 percent in air."