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

aug13_bermfail

SMRI and Blue Ribbon Commission’s Conflicts of Interest.

 by: Freedomrox

As much as the Corporate Program known as “Responsible Care” is plastered on the Water Tower near Bayou Corne, and is a global initiative for every Corporate Member at the Napoleonville Salt Dome, but is not associated with Texas Brine in any way, except for the fact they are members along with every Company that does business on the Dome, yet is often misunderstood as being Texas Brine’s motto. Of course, as we’ve seen responsible care is the last thing to be associated with Texas Brine, LLC.

That is not the case with the Solution Mining Research Institute, which was actually Co-Founded by Texas Brine.  

Yet again, almost every single Company at the Dome is a Member, as is many of the Service Companies, and Support Services are shown to be Members of the Solution Mining Research Institute. It seems to be a prerequisite to doing business there.

 What is much more disturbing is the fact that nearly half of the Members of the Governor Bobby Jindal’s appointed Blue Ribbon Commission are also Members of the Solution Mining Research Institute, (SMRI), or closely affiliated. These incestuous relationships call into question the objectivity of such a Commission whose lion’s share of it’s members owe allegiance to a Texas Brine co-founded Solution Mining Research Institute, and yet one that owes no allegiance at all to the people of Grand Bayou/Bayou Corne. 

This is shameful and disingenuous at best, but, of course, that is only one man’s opinion.

At the website of the Institute, are some disturbing admissions, such as;

The Solution Mining Research Institute (SMRI) is interested in the production of salt brine and the utilization of the resulting caverns for the storage of oil, gas, chemicals, compressed air and waste” (sic)

as well as;

SMRI has the following purposes:

  1. Sponsor and engage in research related to solution mining, cavern storage/utilization, and environmental effects thereof.
  2. Present papers of current interest to the industry relative to solution mining and cavern utilization. For information on presenting papers at or attending our next conference, see ‘CONFERENCES section.
  3. Serve as a technology center and representative for the industry.
  4. Assist in the promulgation of governmental regulations and laws affecting the solution mining industry.”

Number 4 will become very disturbing, very quickly as you shall soon see.

Now, let’s take a look at the Blue Ribbon Commission Members:

Pierre Berest, Ph.D., Research Director at France’s Ecole Polytechnique, member of French Commission for Underground Storage Safety, former president of the Solution Mining Research Institute.

James Linn, Ph.D., Geotechnical consultant, former president of Solution Mining Research Institute, former Underground Storage Technology Manager for Sandia National Laboratories.

John Voigt, Executive Director of Solution Mining Research Institute, President of Voigt Mining and Geotechnical, specializing in salt geology and brine/water inflow evaluation.

Doesn’t look too good so far, does it, but not too damning, until we get to the other members, that is. Please keep this one fact in mind when you see the following names, attached to Sandia National Laboratories, and CB&I, (formerly Shaw Group) for they are members of the Solution Mining Research Institute.

David Borns, Ph.D., Geotechnology and Engineering Program Manager for Sandia National Laboratories, research focused on subsurface monitoring for environmental applications, risk assessments and simulations.

Gary Hecox, Ph.D., Senior Hydrogeologist and GIS Analyst with CB&I, technical lead for CB&I Bayou Corne response team.

Blayne Hartman, Ph.D., Geochemist with Hartman Environmental Geoscience, contributor to regulatory guidance documents on vapor intrusion for EPA and several state agencies.

Now I include Mr. Hartman because of his work with the EPA, which….is a member of the Solution Mining Research Institute. This is not a typo; the Environmental Protection Agency is a member of SMRI.

As for the rest of the Commission, I have no opinion, and not casting aspersions upon any of the members of the Blue Ribbon Commission or their character, nor integrity. However it is apparent that conflicts of interests do arise, especially in light of the information as listed above, and becomes highly sensitive where the Blue Ribbon Commission is concerned, since they have been charged with public safety, and is of immediate concern for the residents, as stated in the Blue Ribbon Commission’s Mission Statement;

“To provide benchmarks for the recommendations, the commission will address at least two key factors, including appropriate conditions to determine sustained public safety and the data needed to assess those conditions. The commission will make recommendations on what the safety benchmarks should be and on when they have been sufficiently met.”

http://dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=newsroom&tmp=detail&aid=1005

Now for information that has absolutely stunned me, and still cannot quite believe, but here it is in black and white and a possible reason why the State seems to be squarely upon the side of industry, especially in light of #3 and #4 of SMRI’s Mission Statement:

Assist in the promulgation of governmental regulations and laws affecting the solution mining industry.”

An alarming statement considering a member of the Solution Mining Institute is:

Louisiana Office of Conservation

Class R Member

Mr. Joseph S. Ball, Jr.

Post Office Box 94275

Baton Rouge, 70804-9275, LA

United States

+1 225 342 5569

Sources:

MEMBERS OF THE BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION

http://dnr.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=newsroom&tmp=detail&aid=1005

MEMBERS OF THE SOLUTION MINING RESEARCH INSTITUTE

http://solutionmining.org/assets/files/120213%20member%20companies%20xls(1).pdf

I leave it to the People affected by this disaster to make their own minds up as to the information contained above. I am merely the researcher and the messenger.

Personally I have grave reservations over any Texas Brine co-founded Solution Mining Research Institute’s abilities to affect the decisions of the Blue Ribbon Commission as well as Louisiana State Government, when it’s members include the key elements of the State and Federal governments that are charged with regulation and safety of the people of the State of Louisiana and beyond.

Now we can understand why all common sense and restrictive bills upon solution mining fall by the wayside. My heart also goes out to the people of Jefferson Island and Lake Peigneur, for AGL Resources is also a member of this very powerful and politically influential Solution Mining Research Institute

 

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Louisiana Sinkhole: Jindal’s Folly

PAD3 Stinkhole

Today, May 20, 2013, marked a milestone in Louisiana history, whether anyone knows it or not. Governor Bobby Jindal visited the people of Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou and gave the most hypocritical speech that I have heard in a very long time. Of course, in the world of politics, this is seemingly an everyday occurrence, yet this one took the cake, so to speak.

After listening to Jindal, in spite of his political bluster, stood at the podium and admitted that there was nothing they could do about Texas Brine LLC’s failure to live up to it’s promises and deadlines concerning resident buyouts, other than to issue empty threats about permits. If Jindal really was serious, then he would authorize an official investigation into Texas Brine’s business practices and the many laws they have broken throughout the years…and there have been many!

Of course this will never happen, because then it would implicate Dept. of Conservation, LDNR, LDEQ, and most especially one of the more powerful men in the State, James Welsh, as well as Jindal’s own administration, which included Scott Angelle, the former head of LDNR, who skipped town five (5) days after the initial cave-in August 3rd, 2012.

The “Go To Patsy”, that was forced to follow Scott Angelle; Mr. Steven Chustz, has still not provided an answer as to where the location of 50 salt cavern’s worth of ‘radioactive scale’ for the last 50 years has disappeared to, nor it’s disposition. Also, no word has come from the Senate Committee that asked Mr. Chustz to report on the 1991-1994 cavern injections, or upon the Solka Floc slurry system both LDEQ and LDNR illegally signed off onto. The point is not whether radioactive materials were actually injected, or burned, or simply dumped in a landfill, (which would be a separate crime all upon it’s own), but the fact that the laws of the time were broken and between Louisiana Government Agencies, and Private Companies, constituting Conspiracy, ongoing cover ups, and RICO violations.

https://freedomrox.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/louisiana-sinkhole-state-documentation-reveals-that-radioactive-materials-were-injected-into-five-additional-napoleonville-salt-dome-caverns/

Remember please the dishonest way that Texas Brine, LLC has acted since this disaster first began, as evidenced by Texas Brine LLC’s claim that earth tremors caused the failure of its salt cavern,

 http://theadvocate.com/home/3985701-125/parish-officials-question-findings-by

Parish Officials and Stephen Chustz fired back at Texas Brine’s silly statements, amid a slough-in that opened the caved in sinkhole even further. Texas Brine’s response was that the event never took place.

http://www.texasbrine.com/response/2012-10-15_TBC-Update.pdf

http://theadvocate.com/news/ascension/4300359-123/parish-texas-brine-continue-size

Finally after repeated threats and missing several deadlines, Texas Brine states they will play ball and follow the Directives, and finally sink their first vent well in November, three months after the fact.

http://theadvocate.com/news/ascension/4137075-123/brine-firm-to-comply-with

Conservation brings in Shaw, (now CB&I), which is a partner of Texas Brine’s in the Texas Brine co-founded ‘Solution Mining Institute’, as is;

Sandia National Laboratories

Class B

Mr. David J. Borns

Dept. 6113 – MS 0706 P.O. Box 5800

Albuquerque, 87185-0706, NM

United States

+1 (505) 844-7333.

Does that ring a bell? Isn’t Mr. Borns on the Blue Ribbon Commission? Isn’t Dr. Gary Hecox of CB&I? As is Pierre Berest, Ph.D, James Linn, Ph.D., Geotechnical consultant, former president of Solution Mining Research Institute, and John Voigt, Executive Director of Solution Mining Research Institute. Seems a conflict of interest here. SOCON, and Baker Hughes are all members as well. Dow is a member as well as Sabine Storage & Operations, Inc. from Houston, TX. This will be important in a moment.

http://solutionmining.org/assets/files/120213%20member%20companies%20xls(1).pdf

The point of this article is not just about the incestuous relationships between all operators on the Dome, or the companies that service them, although it is one helluva point all on its own, nor is the point that the LDNR, Conservation, and LDEQ, that permitted, encouraged, and helped cover up the problems Texas Brine knew it had already caused, and all involved covered that fact up; are now working in tandem to fix the cover-up. No, my point has nothing to do with the ‘Foxes guarding the Henhouse’, but maybe it should be.

The point is that from the very start of this intentional gamble to abandon a known failed salt cavern laying outside the salt, and the naked greed it took to perform a mill out above this already known failure, causing this whole imbroglio to begin with, Texas Brine LLC has had pretty much free reign to do as they please with the lives of the people they have employed, used, abused, and helped poison for the last ten months. No Government State Agency has brought them to heel, nor actually held them accountable, for the reasons stated above. Nor will they. Ever.

The real point is that despite Governor Bobby Jindal’s threats and blustering, will not mean a whit in the policy making processes of the Insurance Companies resistance to a precedent-setting and historical decision. What decision, you may ask? The one of paying off the victims of a disaster to the tune of possibly half a billion dollars, before liability has been set forth by a court of competent jurisdiction. That is the one point that cannot be ignored, and I have noticed it being the center of a buzz, and is constantly bandied about on nearly every Insurance blog on the net in the last year.

Think about it; just how much of your daily life is controlled by Insurance Companies? Which industry successfully lobbied for every single person to be forced to carry Auto Insurance, or be fined? Which industry will not even allow a bank loan to issue for your own home, unless you carry homeowner’s insurance? Cargo Insurance, etc, etc., ad nauseam?

If Governor Bobby Jindal was truly serious about helping the people of Grand Bayou/Bayou Corne, then I find myself reluctantly agreeing with Mr. John Achee Jr.’s stance of the Governor pleading for federal assistance to come in and take over this truly un-natural disaster. I know this is not popular with the whole community, and a healthy distrust of the Federal Government, (especially in light of the recent tyrannical scandals of late), is entirely understandable, but please allow me to explain.

With Federal Assistance, the Army Corps of Engineers and their unlimited resources would come into play, as well as the National Disaster Relief Fund, which would place the full resources of the federal government, and State Agencies to the task of finding a true mitigation of this ongoing, slow-motion disaster. Also, buyouts would be handled with Federal and State funds, and it would then be the responsibility of the Feds and the State to sue Texas Brine and Occidental Chemical for reparations, and the burden not be laid at the feet of the resident’s and unintentional victims to recover in long drawn out court battles that may last 10-15 year; which is where this seems to be heading.

Those not wanting to leave should stay in the Mandatory Evacuation Zone and be prepared to suffer any of the consequences of that decision, but those that want to move out of the way of this slow motion train wreck of enormous proportions should be compensated, and allowed to move on with their lives.

I have not even delved into the probable forthcoming victim’s of Pierre Part as the methane has migrated to the western edges of the MRAA aquifer, and damages already being reported in that area. LDNR, LDEQ, and Conservation have completely ignored all complaints and reports, many times with outright lies and obfuscation. This cannot be allowed to go on, and it won’t. More on that in an upcoming article.

I state that if something is not done very soon in respects to the long-suffering victim’s, that a clarion call should be raised that the Governor be impeached, and charges brought against all State Agencies, as well as the Federal Government, for not responding to a National Emergency regarding the Nation’s Energy Supply, and refusing to protect National Security in these regards.

http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/ngpipeline/southeast.html

Whether anyone truly grasps the scope and scale of how important this region is to the National Interests and Security is irrelevant, for the State and Federal Government already know and have failed the People of Louisiana, and the People of America, in their lackadaisical response to this highly sensitive area of our energy supplies, as well as ignoring the environmental stability and well-being of a major watershed and wildlife habitat.

The State Agencies involved should be restrained from issuing any further drilling permits, [four (4) in the last ten months for the north, south, and east sides of a water-infiltrated, and fractured Napoleonville Salt Dome], and a permanent moratorium on the design and engineering of any new Solution Mined Caverns anywhere on the Dome should be a part of the Orders and Directives, while allowing the ones already in operation to remain, under close scrutiny. No one is suggesting Corporations should abandon the Dome, (although Gulf South fled it’s Magnolia Facility, and Chevron is in limbo), but until the extent of the damages, and infiltration to the Salt Dome are honestly assessed, then it is not too much to ask that no more caverns should be created until answers are known.

Which brings me to my last point, and one that should outrage each and every one of you, and while still there, should fight with every ounce of energy at your disposal, and that is the recent Public Notice that appeared in the Bayou Journal by Sabine Storage & Operations, Inc. from Houston, TX, and on behalf of Dow Hydrocarbons Resources Inc. All contacts, phone numbers, and mailing addresses are included in this notice, and if you agree, should definitely make your voices heard, and stop this irresponsible and hazardous activity.

DOW LEGAL NOTICE

Just on the off chance no one actually clicks the link above, then please understand that it contains a Public Notice that Sabine, and Dow intend to solution mine another additional cavern to the South East Side of the Napoleonville Salt Dome nearest Napoleonville, La.

 (More may be added to this post as available, and special thanks to the local, who sent me the Bayou Journal notice, and Kenny Simoneaux as well.)