The state Department of Natural Resources says Lake Peigneur area residents were not at risk during a January power failure that caused a loud disruption at a nearby natural gas storage facility. DNR has released a report on the incident , at the request of Sen. Mary Landreiu. Officials say that the The Jefferson Island Storage and Hub facility’s safety systems operated properly, preventing any risk. The power failure, which was caused by a nearby vehicular accident, triggered a brief shutdown at the facility. According to the report, the Jefferson Island Storage facility has a fail safe blowdown system which releases pressure in the event of a power failure. This caused a volume of natural gas to be vented out into the atmosphere from a section of the plant’s piping for approximately three minutes. Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh writes that “based on a review of operators procedures for abnormal operations, records pertaining to the event, and by the onsite field review at the facility, the Office of Conservation agents found that the facility’s blowdown system found the facility’s blowdown system performed as designed and further, did not find any apparent probable violations pertaining to the Jan. 29, 2008 event.
The investigation was conducted after a petition from local residents and a request from Sen. Mary Landrieu. Nara Crowley, Vice President of the Save Lake Peigneur community organization, told The Daily Iberian that the investigation wasn’t handled properly. “Everyone is outraged,” she said. “The DNR completely disregarded all the statements and testimonials that area residents provided about the incident. What did the DNR investigate? They got all their facts and figures from AGL.” Save Lake Peigneur was formed by Jefferson Island residents concerned about the natural gas storage facility, which deposits gas in the salt dome underneath the lake. Save Lake Peigneur has complained of strange bubbling that occurs at the lake and also has opposed the facility’s plans for expansion.