FOX 8 News received this press release from the state Department of Natural Resources Monday evening:
BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh today ordered Texas Brine LLC to install a network of observation/vent wells, pressure monitoring wells and elevation benchmarks for subsidence monitoring in the Bayou Corne area to ensure the public's safety. The commissioner also ordered the company to assume responsibility for operating the observation/vent wells already installed by the Office of Conservation's contracted agent, Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, and to provide containment around the sinkhole area to prevent any release of oil into nearby waterways.
The new orders under the existing Declaration of Emergency and Directive also specifically require Texas Brine to install in-home monitors to detect possible natural gas accumulations and to upgrade home ventilation for all slab-foundation buildings within the Bayou Corne evacuation area established by Assumption Parish. These additional orders are needed because of the potential for methane accumulation connected to the failure of Texas Brine's nearby brine mining cavern.
Though Texas Brine is being ordered to assume responsibility for operating and installing the networks of wells and monitoring equipment, Welsh said, the actions taken must meet the specifications and requirements of the Office of Conservation's oversight of the response to the sinkhole and ongoing presence of natural gas in and above the aquifer. These events are connected to the failure of Texas Brine's abandoned brine cavern on the western side of the Napoleonville Salt Dome.
Welsh said the additional requirements are based on analysis by the Office of Conservation and expert consultants with the Office's contracted agent, Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, of underground conditions in the area above the top of the ground water aquifer, where natural gas pressure has been detected. Though past monitoring of slab-based structures in the area have shown no accumulation of natural gas in homes, Welsh said that all necessary steps must be taken to detect, minimize or prevent any such accumulation from occurring.
"The steps outlined in this directive will give us an added layer of protection in ensuring public safety and move the response effort closer to bringing the lives of the residents of the Bayou Corne area back to normal," Welsh said. "They are designed to provide three lines of defense – ongoing removal of natural gas from the aquifer and underground in and around the community; use of ventilation as a preventative measure against potential natural gas accumulation in homes; and because we cannot take public safety for granted, constant monitoring for any possible natural gas accumulation in those structures."
Welsh noted that his order will not alter the ongoing cooperative effort between the Office of Conservation and the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to run an additional round of in-home testing for methane accumulation in slab-built structures in the area to determine current conditions.
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