Louisiana Sinkhole: From the Frying Pan into the Fire

I am itching to explain the findings of the new geo-technical data that Don Marlin has so graciously provided, as well as many other findings, but at this time, another more pressing matter must be addressed for the sake of the residents who actually heeded the ‘Mandatory Evacuation’ and vacated the area over 13 months ago.

In the following video, a question is asked by Mr. Mike Schaff, and it is a most urgent and pressing question.

Mr. Schaff: “Sir, one of the stipulations for it to be safe for the evacuation to be called off, was that; the sinkhole to be stabilized, the caverns to be stabilized, and the gas within the aquifer was to be at, or below hydrostatic pressure. What I am hearing tonight is that these stipulations will change. Am I correct?”

Speaker: “That is what is being presented by these scientists, some of which are Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission, and the Blue Ribbon Commission has been tasked to make that offer, or to make that call. So they have found something with that MiPht, and, and, and all the other tests, that says there is a lot of gas at the shallower depths, but ultimately the BRC are going to be looking very closely at the results of this effort, and then they will convene and have the responsibility to make that call.”

(Click ‘PLAY’ and then click on the top left corner, left of ‘Playlist’ and select Video #8. Start at the beginning of this Part 8 video to hear the exchange)

Now for those that haven’t followed this strange and disconcerting development, allow me to explain. Scientist’s have come up with the brilliant ‘Old’ idea of using a dual phase vapor extraction system (DPVE) to de-water the areas surrounding the Bayou Corne subdivision, and thus, they believe will relieve the methane pressures by intercepting the gas at the 20-30 ft. level underneath the whole entire neighborhood, using only four of these monstrous dinosaurs, which is normally used to clean up soils that have been contaminated by ruptured gas or petroleum tanks buried under the ground. Here is a picture of just one of these monstrosities:

Dual Phase Vapor Extraction Monster (1)

(Photo courtesy of The Advocate)

http://theadvocate.com/home/7049897-125/vacuum-system-alleviates-methane-buildup

(ASIDE: How would you like to live next to one of these four proposed DPVE pumps and their backup generators running 24/7?)

I will shortly go into why this system is doomed to fail, but the harder question is one of the sudden shift in policy, especially since not ten minutes prior to these statements, Dr. Gary Hecox stated that this will not be over until the gas has been emptied from the MRAA (aquifer).

Essentially, they are hoping this system will work to make it safe to return to the neighborhood for those who have to tend to their evacuated properties for maintenance, and for those remaining there, to feel somewhat safer. In that regard, I applaud their efforts. However, it does not truly affect the situation that gave rise to the Mandatory Evacuation in the first place.

The DPVE does not affect but a small area of concentration, hence the reason four of these extraction units must be strategically situated around the neighborhood, and does nothing to alleviate the other methane and VOC’s escaping all around the subdivision and it’s attending swamps. Also, and unless scientist’s have devised a way to create a DPVE 30 acres long and 30 acres wide to sit over the area of the sinkhole, then there shall be no alleviation of the copious amounts of raw hydrocarbons, gases, and other materials being emitted by the sinkhole mining disaster proper.

None of this low technology addresses the subsidence zone that is expressing itself west of the mining disaster and sinkhole either. The subsidence area is progressing at it’s own pace and is unstoppable. As the ground subsides, ever increasing water levels are noted, and will always follow the subsidence, whether it is one foot or ten makes no difference if your house is under water. No plans to address this have been even considered the last thirteen months.

Actually, this seems to be another shot-in-the-dark experiment to see if it has any effect whatsoever on the neighborhood, so that the benchmarks can be changed by the Blue Ribbon Commission from a stable state system of hydrostatic pressure of the methane gas within the aquifer, to one of shallow area gas extraction, in order to allow the Mandatory Evacuation to be cancelled, and to sound the ‘All Clear’ for residents to return to their homes and say they are safe.

This is a fairy tale. Considering the voluminous amounts of evidence of the Blue Ribbon Commission and their admittedly incestous ties not only to the Solution Mining industry, but specifically of their career-making, or ending connections to the Texas Brine co-founded Solution Mining Research Institute, as proven in an earlier article;

Louisiana Sinkhole: SMRI and Blue Ribbon Commission’s Conflicts of Interest

then it would be the height of stupidity for these very Commission members to weigh in on a very unproven technology contained within the parameters of this poorly understood geology, and seriously adverse environmental conditions, to even entertain the notion of recommending the lifting of the ‘Mandatory Evacuation’ without years of study to back up those claims.

To illustrate the almost insurmountable difficulties in establishing that no gases of any kind are escaping the DPVE’s range of operations, then let’s look at what the advantages and disadvantages of the dual phase vapor extraction methods are:

Advantages:

  • Proven performance over a wide range of conditions. Requires no downhole pumps, but is flexible enough to allow their use if necessary.
  • Minimal disturbance to site operations; can be used under buildings without excavation.
  • Short treatment times (usually 6 months to 2 years under optimal conditions).
  • Substantially increases groundwater extraction rates.
  • Can be applied at sites with free product, and can be combined with other technologies.
  • Can reduce the cost of groundwater treatment through air stripping within the vacuum extraction tube.

Disadvantages:

  • Single-pump systems are expensive to implement at sites with medium to high-permeability soils, and effectiveness. Dual-pump systems may not be effective in low permeability soils.
  • Difficult to apply to sites where the water table fluctuates unless water table depression pumps are employed.
  • Treatment may be expensive for extracted vapors and for oil-water separation.
  • Large volume of extracted groundwater may require treatment.
  • Requires specialized equipment with sophisticated control capability.
  • Requires complex monitoring and control during operations.

Courtesy of the EPA: http://www.epa.gov/oust/cat/dualphas.htm

Although I share the concerns of many of the Evacuees, and of those not evacuated, then I say to please pay attention and evaluate every utterance of the Blue Ribbon Commission and to seriously critisize any communications coming from their end, but please remember, that ultimately, the decision is not up to the Governor, the BRC, or anyone else, other than as John Beaudreaux stated, and that the final decision is up to the OEP, and in the end to the Parish President Marty Triche, whom have all publicly stated that if they feel it is not safe to lift the Mandatory Evacuation Zone, then they are prepared and willing to face down all comers in court to ensure the safety of the public, and not just the residents by themselves.

This man made mining disaster has put into consideration the ultimate fate of Hwy. 70, subsidence rates in other areas of the Parish, (such as the continually sinking roadway on Hwy. 69, just before it intersects with Hwy. 70), and the motoring public that uses this major artery between Morgan City and Baton Rouge. Since this will most likely continue on for years, and please remember that every time a Scientist has opened his mouth with a prediction thus far, that Mother Nature has proven how very little they truly understand about the nature of this mining disaster that has stolen the very lives of so many people in the region.

So, until that time comes, I do not feel that it is very likely that ANYONE will call for the Order of Mandatory Evacuation to be lifted, and most especially not because of an Electrolux solution that amounts to another untried experiment within the bayous of Bayou Corne.

electrolux

Photo courtesy FlyingCuttleFish of the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle

Again, I may be wrong, and the BRC will turn on the residents like rabid dogs, but there are way too many other considerations on the line that prevent such a proclamation to even be uttered in the coming year, and would still do nothing to mitigate the damages already suffered over the last 13 months, and will make absolutely no difference in the ongoing court cases. Legally, the damage has been done, and no mitigation measures on earth can restore the damages of the last 13 and a half months.

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Louisiana Sinkhole: WHO KNEW? EVERYONE! EXCEPT THE VICTIMS!

sh6

“This is an unprecedented event, and no one knew this could ever happen.”

That is the catch-phrase that has been mouthed by Louisiana State Office of Conservation, and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

Dr. Gary Hecox of Shaw, (CB&I now), first stated this, and it has made the rounds of Texas Brine’s Sonny Cranch, Patrick Couregges, all the way down to John Beaudreaux with Assumption Parish’s Dept. of Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Preparedness. Except it is a known lie.

In this short article I will attempt to show you all the evidence that puts the lies to the lips of the various speakers making this absurd claim. Although an unprecedented event, it was actually absolutely expected….

Before I do though, let’s just take the short path and I will state my conclusions now, and then allow you, the reader, to make up your own minds as to the veracity of these scientific papers and the evidences contained within before forming your own conclusions.

It is a known and proven fact that Sandia National Laboratories, (A Member of the Solution Mining Research Institute-Texas Brine Co-Founded), knew that Hooker #8 (Now Oxy Geismar #3), was laying upon the shale sheath as well since 1995, since they are also a Member of SMRI, as shown in a previous article.

It was doubly confirmed when a SONAR survey of 2007 of Oxy 3, (Vulcan 3 then), showed a pronounced straight line deformation in its sonic profile.

Yet, this slowed neither the State, nor Texas Brine none at all. Still they mined this Cavern, and used it up to the fullest extent, then…looked for another way to keep extracting brine. They had a hard nailed 30 year contract, and were absolutely determined to meet this far flung contract. Their Company’s name, reputation, and reliability depended upon this contract being fulfilled, and Texas Brine is still trying to accomplish this goal today.

Once the operational life of Oxy Geismar #3 was at an end, It seems ever more self-evident that Texas Brine knew what was happening with Cavern 3, and made plans in 2010 to abandon Cavern # 3 in favor of milling out an upper cavern starting at 2280 ft. down 100 ft. to 2380 ft. and at best, only 300 ft. of salt existed at 2280-2380 ft. from the outside of the dome, and at worst only 100 ft. of salt separated the dome from the outside shale, and a normal mill out pressure is initially approximately 1500 psi at depth or 0.8 psi per foot of depth, (per Regulations) which would create a cavity of approximately 100-200 ft of open space (horizontally, and at least 100 feet in vertical height) around the wellbore casing using freshwater. It is my contention, and the opinions of others far more experienced than I am, that the salt was breached into shale and shattered the nascent Down Thrown Fault Block forming just outside the Salt Edge,  and thus setting off this nearby fault line in the shale, which was truly the beginning of this entire disaster. The shale sheath protecting Cavern 3 fractured as a result of this Mill Out, and cavern pressures were immediately noted to be dropping.

Is this conjecture? Absolutely not.  This was known as a possibility many years ago, as proven by this entitled publication, ‘Failure rates for underground gas storage’ published in 2008.

Here is an excerpt, “2.2.1 Discussion Two cases of problems encountered at salt cavern facilities (Clovelly and Napoleanville, Louisiana) were due to insufficient site characterisation [Evans, 2007], with the caverns having been built too close to the edge of a salt dome such that there was not enough salt ‘buffer’. In terms of the UK, this is not really an issue onshore, as there are no halokinetic structures developed. However, similar problems may be caused in cases with a previously unknown large fault, producing an offset of the bedded salt beds, that might be close by a facility, potentially intersecting or impacting on the cavern walls. In several of the other incidents, where no release occurred, the shape of the cavity has changed over time due to the operating technique employed at those particular sites. Had operators been monitoring data such as the cavity volume, cavity pressure or stored gas volumes, these situations may not have occurred. Adherence to the European Standard [BSI, 1998c] would require a facility operator to monitor and record these data.”

Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr671.pdf

Please take special note of Page 8 Section 2.2.

We can even go back much further, to

acavernsketch1997a

Although LDNR and Conservation have stated this was Oxy #1, it is most certainly not, for Oxy #3 is the westernmost cavern on the Napoleonville Salt Dome since 1982 until it’s breach out in August 2012.

Now that it has been firmly established that Louisiana State Dept. of Conservation, Texas Brine, Occidental Chemical, and Sandia all knew caverns were mined too closely to the Salt Edge, thereby having insufficient salt buffers, and that no prevarications can change the simple fact that every one of the entities named above are all members of the Solution Mining Research Institute, and that these and many more papers were required reading, then we are left with only one conclusion. The breach out of Oxy #3 was the culmination of Willful Negligence, and a total disregard for the Public Safety. These ‘Officials’ and Corporations and LLC’s participated in the wanton destruction of the geology and ecology of a very large region of Assumption Parish, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law after a complete investigation….one that cannot be conducted by the very State Authorities that are herein named, so it must be a Federal Investigation into corruption, conspiracy, cover-ups, and illegal business practices.

Again, the only person to have actually performed their job and raise the alarm was Mr. Mark Cartwright, President of United Brine, when in his letter of January 21, 2011, when he stated;

TXBRDNRII

Instead LDNR, Conservation, did not pay heed to the warning, and ordered Oxy Geismar #3 Plugged and Abandoned in the full knowledge that this was dangerous in the extreme, under these circumstances. Official’s are as much, if not more responsible for this disaster, as is Texas Brine/Oxy, for they were in a position to know better.

Yet, this isn’t the worst of it….because much worse seems to be taking place. Remember the shattered fault block that has caused all the seismic activity? Unfortunately, it is setting off a natural process, that if left on it’s own would not have occurred for another thousand years or more, yet set in motion by Oxy and Texas Brine’s unbridled greed. I will allow those more studied than I, to explain.

NEO-TECTONIC FRAMEWORK OF SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA   AND   APPLICATIONS TO COASTAL RESTORATION

“The relationship between regional faults and salt domes appears to play a role in activation of faults. The buoyant salt maintains its vertical position along the cracks. 
Differential movement between the low-density salt and down-building of overlying and adjacent sedimentary deposits appears to have a wedging (space creating) effect on the faults, which may initiate brine water and gas movement up fault planes. The water and gas in turn may lubricate the fault plane surfaces and cause instability along fault segments. Brine and gas may also cause vegetation changes at the surface and indicate areas of active or potential movement. 
Localized natural and anthropomorphic events that may trigger fault movement include flood and storm water loading, compaction, dewatering and fluid withdrawal. Removal of oil, gas and produced water may cause localized subsidence and fault movement (White and Tremblay 1995, White and Morton 1997, Morton etal. 2002). Compaction, consolidation, and diagenesis of Holocene sediments also contribute to the overall subsidence rate. 
Adjustments to vertical changes resulting from these processes appear along fault lines.”

This is what the State and Texas Brine/Occidental have created artificially. If you want to know what happens next….all you need to do is read the observations in this one White Paper. (Excerpt Page 2-15)

Excerpt #2:
“Surface effects of fault movement have occurred, and in some instances appear to be continuing, along other fault zones (e.g., Penchant, Lake Hatch, Lake Salvador, Thibodaux, Lac des Allemandes, and Frenier Fault
Zones) north of the Golden Meadow Zone.” (Excerpt Page 2-7)

http://www.coastalenv.com/NEO-TECTONIC_FRAMEWORK.pdf

Intensive study should be done immediately to find the nearest Regional Fault leading away from the Napoleonville Salt Dome heading west and even to the south east, for there is little doubt that the localized fault set off by the unconscionable actions of Texas Brine and the State Govt., is now branching out and seeking a path of least resistance to the regional fault closest to it. If that is allowed to happen then rapid subsidence is very possible in the days and months ahead.

In light of the voluminous amount of information, and in an abundance of caution, the Parish President should order a ‘FORCED EVACUATION’ of Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou.

END OF PART 1

GeologyPreSinkhole

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