A resolution calling for an “all-out” stop to the Jefferson Island Storage & Hub expansion project by AGL Resources is up for a vote by the Iberia Parish Council this Wednesday, and if passed, will be sent to Commissioner James Welsh of the state Office of Conservation.
The Assumption Parish sinkhole catastrophe is a shining example of why an Atlanta-based company’s plans to create underground caverns for storing natural gas deep underneath Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish must be stopped, says Nara Crowley of the Save Lake Peigneur environmental group.
“We’re hoping it passes unanimously,” says Crowley.
Lake Peigneur is situated where Iberia and Vermilion parishes meet, and the push to stop the underground expansion by AGL Resources has so far warranted the passage of a resolution by the Vermilion Parish Police Jury, as well as two letters of support from U.S. Sen. David Vitter and U.S. Rep Charles Boustany. A third letter of support, Crowley adds, is expected from Sen. Mary Landrieu, but has yet been sent to Welsh’s office.
Officials from AGL Resources and the state Department of Natural Resources have also been invited to share their thoughts Wednesday before the Iberia Parish Council votes on the resolution calling for a halt to the company's expansion plans.
“We’re just trying to stop something bad from happening here, and no matter what [AGL] says about the bubbling (at Lake Peigneur), the problem has never been studied,” Crowley tells The IND. “They can give whatever excuse they want, but it’s just not true.”
Another worry for Crowley is the possibility that the sinkhole in Assumption Parish will continue expanding, eventually impacting other natural underground salt domes like the one situated beneath Lake Peigneur.
“I’m worried this could have a domino effect, because it just keeps spreading and spreading,” Crowley says of the Assumption sinkhole. “If they can’t stop it, other caverns will become involved.”
The likelihood of a domino effect, Crowley says, was discussed Friday by LSU geologist Jeffrey Nunn, who spoke at a luncheon of the Baton Rouge Geological Society. Covering the luncheon was the Baton Rouge Advocate, which reports:
Nun told geologists Friday that one of the scientists’ worst-case fears is that the salt dome could continue to break up from its western edge and threaten other underground caverns.‘We don’t know. That’s a worst case scenario. That’s simply an expressed concern, he said in a later interview.
He noted that testing by operators on the dome have showed those other caverns have integrity. He said those tests probably settle those concerns in the short term, adding the fear is probably unlikely but more study is needed to be certain.