Legal Expert on Sinkhole: “Incredibly dangerous situation” — Local officials very concerned gas could burst through ground with explosive force (VIDEO)

Published: October 8th, 2012 at 1:07 pm ET


Watch the latest from WAFB on the sinkhole here

Title: Fears of methane explosion rise in sinkhole-ravaged La. town
Source: Stuart H. Smith, Esq.
Date: Oct. 8, 2012

Local officials have told the Advocate they’re very concerned that the odorless and colorless gas is accumulating to the point where it could burst through the ground with explosive force […]

This alarming news comes amid news reports that tremors are now being felt in a wide area across the bayou. This happened late last week, roughly 45 miles from Bayou Corne […]

This is an incredibly dangerous situation in the Louisiana bayou. […]

In Bayou Corne, workers began this weekend drilling three vent wells. […] Let’s pray that the efforts to reduce the pressure are not too little — or too late.

Published: October 8th, 2012 at 1:07 pm ET


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17 comments to Legal Expert on Sinkhole: “Incredibly dangerous situation” — Local officials very concerned gas could burst through ground with explosive force (VIDEO)

  • moonshellblue moonshellblue

    Yes, let's hope the vent wells just now being drilled do the job and release pressure. Excuse my ignorance but how do they safely vent the gas without exposing the environment and populace? But I'm sure it exposes not risk to the public isn't that the standard?

    • dosdos dosdos

      They can do one of two things. First is just vent it into the atmosphere and let it dissipate. Second is to do a flare off, which is a controlled burn, to break the gas down, mostly into water and carbon dioxide.

      The question is primarily is the risk of the burn off being a pilot light for other escaping gas. Burn off is preferable, as long it isn't going to set off a massive gas leak.

      • Manifest Irony

        There is a third option. They can treat the salt dome like a natural gas deposit and drill down though a blow-out preventer. Once they hit the gas, they can cap the well and attach it to a pipeline. Then they will be able to move it into storage elsewhere and relieve the pressure in the failing formation. The "grassy road" mentioned in a earlier post is a pipeline corridor (a "scar" in industry parlance). That is likely how the gas was put into the salt dome in the first place and it shouldn't be too difficult to use those lines to move the gas away. Venting is way to dangerous (especially if it's mostly butane – it will settle near the ground) and so is a flare off because it is a ready ignition source should the formation fail altogether. Moving the gas is the safest option.

        • dosdos dosdos

          Venting the gas through a pipeline is an expensive option. Miles of pipeline is not exactly cheap. And if it is spread throughout the area via underground limestone rivers, as reports have shown, it would be exceptionally expensive to tie them all together. While it may be the best solution, no one wants to pick up the bill for installing it. So it is not a likely option.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Scientists are learning how little they new about our world. And learning the hard way.

  • markww markww

    If you look back they said at first no problems at the site, then a report of pressure and escaping gas and then another report that they gas could break loose now they are changing the story on every bulletin. Folks it is dangerous and all emergency personnel need to be on alert from the fire departments to all emergency crews in case the HUGE Explosion happens.
    Mark retired Fire Captain

    • Anthony Anthony

      I think you have been on target the whole time markww.


      I hope you keep sharing your take on this homemade, real-time local disaster. I'm actually in the South right now for another week and am keeping myself ready to bolt at a moments notice if necessary.


      • markww markww

        I hear you and will keep up with what is happening Also have radio up and running HF ham radio


        • WindorSolarPlease

          Hi markww

          If you are right markww, we are all in trouble (again/still).

          All I know for sure is: They haven't been able to fix this either and it's getting worse.
          At this point, I think anything can happen.

          Greedy guts get to radiate us some more, having people breath in toxic fumes, and possibly blow us up, all at the same time.
          There should be a law against this, seriously!!!

  • project722

    Can anyone give me the latest run-down on how this salt dome cavern/collapse could tie-in with the BP oil spill and the cracks in the ocean floor? And if this is the cause of the methane bubbles now being seen 80 miles away? Also, could the sinkhole back-fill of water be attributed to the relationship to the BP oil spill/fissures or is it more likely to be the result of nearby water sources?

    • PavewayIII PavewayIII

      Here's the basic model put forth of the seismic connection.

      A long, long time ago… the Gulf of Mexico was cut off from the ocean and dried up, leaving behind tens-of-kilometers of salt. Then South America decided it didn't like North America and the two split up, right in the middle of the GOM.

      Later on the GOM was reconnected with the oceans. The Yucatan sort of spun counter-clockwise, putting little cracks in the big GOM crack.

      Meanwhile, sand and mud and dead dinosaurs piled up on the Louann mother salt. The Louann Basin was squashed towards the south, and a bunch of salt domes poked up where the salt was really thick. That's where the GOM shelf looks like the moon:

      But beneath the Louann salt is a Gulf of Mexico tectonic plate about the same size that's also moving South. All the squishing and movin' south made a fairly active fault along the ancient continental shelf edge.

      That fault pretty much connects the Macondo well, Lake Pontchartrain, Baton Rouge, and the sinkhole of death. Further on, he fault runs through Hot Wells LA – where the New Madrid fault may start (=bad)

      Theory: Dead dinos and methane hydrates are not the cause. They're just along for the ride.

  • project722

    Doesn't really answer my questions but thanks anyway.

  • razzz razzz

    I think you should worry more about if it is butane leaking or methane. If they are saying 'unknown' gas, then it is butane and they don't want to admit it is leaking from one of the storage caverns.

    It could leak cavern-to-cavern through a crack or travel out the top of a dome through a thinning dome or along well casing and get trapped in the layers of strata and forced to surface somewhere else.

    Under constant pressure it will create a larger and larger pathway to the surface.

    Hope that is not the problem.

  • arclight arclight

    if things hadnt got bad enough!

    Breaking! BP Gulf disaster -Food chain damage likely on the way

    “The damage that we don’t see could be far worse,” he said. “The subsurface ecosystem damage can damage the genetic make up of and productivity of these ecosystems.”

    He said that the chemicals released by the initial spill accumulate upward in the food chain, and “reach levels above the threshold of what causes genetic damage in marine species, and may further cause cancer in seafood consuming humans.”

    “If anyone is still accepting BPs assertions that this is not an environmental disaster any longer, this is an eye opener,” he added.