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The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising the public that the Oxy 3/sinkhole monitoring alert status has been raised to Code 2 – requiring all work directly in and over the sinkhole to cease until further notice. Seismic monitoring has detected elevated subsurface activity in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3 area indicative of fluid and gas movement below the sinkhole, and a further slough-in was observed along the southeastern side of the sinkhole this morning, with the access ramp from the Oxy 3 well pad to the sinkhole having sloughed in, along with several trees on either side of the ramp. The seismic activity is limited to the Oxy 3/sinkhole area, showing no indication of impact to the Oxy 1 area. Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will continue to advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions
The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising the public that a slough-in occurred last night along the southeastern side of the sinkhole – approximately 25 trees fell into the sinkhole along the southeastern side and a new crack, running parallel to the sinkhole edge, was observed on the Oxy 3 well pad access ramp to the sinkhole. Experts with Conservation and CB&I believe the slough-in event is linked to the period of elevated subsurface fluid and gas movement detected late last week in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3, as has been observed in previous similar events. At this time, the Oxy3/sinkhole monitoring alert status remains at Code 1, allowing work around the sinkhole to continue, as the slough-in appears to be related to the earlier subsurface activity – however, monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions.
The Office of Conservation is advising the public that the Texas Brine is beginning work on the well pad shared by the Oxy 3A and Oxy 9 wellheads in preparation for moving in a snubbing unit to re-enter the Oxy 3A wellbore and clear out blockage currently preventing direct access to the original Oxy 3 cavern. The snubbing unit is designed to provide maximum pressure control in the wellbore to ensure safety of the public and of workers on site. Contractors will be placing wooden mats on the site, as well as moving some of the equipment already stationed on site to make room for the snubbing unit, expected to be moved on site within the next week.
The Office of Conservation is advising the public that the Oxy 3/sinkhole monitoring alert status has been lowered back to Code 1 – allowing work inside and around the sinkhole to resume. The rate of subsurface activity being detected by seismic monitoring is reduced in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3 area, and the waters of the sinkhole have not shown further signs of movement at surface. Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions. The public is also being advised that the 3D seismic work is planned for Sunday, March 24, involving the use of boat-mounted pneumatic equipment on the waters of the sinkhole to generate the seismic signals used to help assess the status of the disturbed rock zone near and below the sinkhole.
Members Announced for Blue Ribbon Commission on Bayou Corne Safety
Draws from local, national and international experts, first meeting planned for early April
BATON ROUGE – Today, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Stephen Chustz, Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh and GOSHEP Director Kevin Davis announced that they have finalized the membership of the Blue Ribbon Commission called for last week by Governor Bobby Jindal to provide science-based recommendations for public safety in the Bayou Corne area. Chustz said 13 members have been selected to serve on the Commission.
DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz said, “The Blue Ribbon Commission will help us build on the progress we’ve made to protect the Bayou Corne community and environment. Members of the Commission hail from all over the world, and we’ve brought together the best knowledge available to work on these safety recommendations. To ensure that the members share our sense of urgency, we’ve made sure that some of the expertise on the Commission comes from the scientists already working on the sinkhole and that one member is from the Bayou Corne area. The commission will meet in the first week of April – and we look forward to learning from their expertise so we can continue ensuring the safety of Bayou Corne,” Chustz said.
The Commission’s purpose is to ensure the long-term safety of Bayou Corne residents through development of specific criteria to measure progress in achieving safety goals. The three primary areas to be a addressed by the commission are the levels of shallow gas in the aquifer, the current and future stability on the western side of Napoleonville Salt Dome, and the management and containment of the sinkhole coupled with the determination of potential void spaces below the sinkhole.
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.
“We appreciate Governor Jindal’s support in directing that this Commission be formed with some of the best minds available throughout the world, so they can give us real answers for our people on when those who want to return home can do so safely,” said Assumption Parish Police Jury President Marty Triche.
Chustz said that while some members were selected from the team already assisting in the state’s response, the search effort also went well beyond the borders of the state of Louisiana and the United States to find the best mix of national and international expertise and regional experience in areas of science applicable to the public safety concerns in Bayou Corne.
“The work of this Commission is crucial to the future of public safety in the Bayou Corne area,” Chustz said. “We must ensure we have done all that we can to get the right people to provide the right answers in making recommendations for the future of the people who want to return.”
The members named to the Commission are:
- Pierre Berest, Ph.D., Research Director at France’s Ecole Polytechnique, member of French Commission for Underground Storage Safety, former president of the Salt 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
- J.C. Chamberlain, 12-year resident of Bayou Corne area, 30 years of industrial experience
- Randall Charbeneau, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research with University of Texas-Austin’s Center for Research in Water Resources, former member of Science Advisory Committee for EPA Underground Injection Control program, former chairman of review panel for EPA’s Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Laboratory Groundwater Modeling Research
- Doug Duncan, Associate Coordinator of U.S. Geological Survey Energy Resource Program, research focused geologically based energy resources and impacts to environmental and human health
- Blayne Hartman, Ph.D., Geochemist with Hartman Environmental Geoscience, contributor to regulatory guidance documents on vapor intrusion for EPA and several state agencies
- Gary Hecox, Ph.D., Senior Hydrogeologist and GIS Analyst with CB&I, technical lead for CB&I Bayou Corne response team
- James Linn, Ph.D., Geotechnical consultant, former president of Solution Mining Research Institute, former Underground Storage Technology Manager for Sandia National Laboratories
- Denis O’Carroll, Ph.D., Associate Professor for University of Western Ontario’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, research focused on groundwater contamination and remediation
- Will Pettitt, Ph.D., Vice President of Itasca Group, member of microseismic and geomechnics team in ongoing Bayou Corne response
- John Rogers Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor with LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering, consulting engineer for federal Oil Spill Commission on events leading to 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident
- Thomas Van Biersel, Ph.D., Hydrogeologist with Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, former Assistant Professor with Louisiana Geological Survey at LSU, coordinator for Science Work Group advising Bayou Corne response
- John Voigt, Executive Director of Solution Mining Research Institute, President of Voigt Mining and Geotechnical, specializing in salt geology and brine/water inflow evaluation
The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising the public that the Oxy 3/sinkhole monitoring alert status has been raised to Code 3 – requiring all work inside and around the sinkhole to cease until further notice. Seismic monitoring has detected elevated subsurface activity in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3 area indicative of fluid and gas movement below the sinkhole, and water movement in the sinkhole has been observed, along with increased bubbling along the western side of the sinkhole. The seismic activity is limited to the Oxy 3/sinkhole area, showing no indication of impact to the Oxy 1 area. Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions.