Texas Brine sinkhole plan would plug well

Screen shot from State Police video -- The Assumption Parish sinkhole is shown in this Nov. 14, 2012, flyover video by Louisiana State Police.
Screen shot from State Police video -- The Assumption Parish sinkhole is shown in this Nov. 14, 2012, flyover video by Louisiana State Police.

Texas Brine Co. intends to submit a plan to the state Department of Natural Resources to permanently plug one of its two vent wells near the Assumption Parish sinkhole that officials discovered earlier this week was letting hydrogen sulfide gas escape, Texas Brine officials said Wednesday.

Texas Brine informed the DNR Office of Conservation on Wednesday of its plan to seal the well, according to a letter written by Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh.

Welsh requested in his letter that Texas Brine provide its plans by Saturday.

Texas Brine is working on a proposal to send to DNR for review, company spokesman Sonny Cranch said.

Officials shut in the well Monday evening shortly after discovering hydrogen sulfide was being carried to the surface from the well, Texas Brine has said.

Cranch has said a minimal amount of hydrogen sulfide gas escaped and did not pose a public health risk.

Venting and flaring of natural gas from Texas Brine’s other relief well continued Wednesday and will keep going until Monday, Texas Brine said in a statement.

Hydrogen sulfide has never been detected from the other well, the statement said.

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that is flammable and poisonous at sufficiently high concentrations. The naturally occurring gas has a foul rotten-egg odor, can occur in natural gas deposits and is a known risk with oil and gas exploration.

About 150 homes in the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas have remained evacuated since Aug. 3, when the large sinkhole was found in the swamps between the two communities.

Scientists believe a Texas Brine salt cavern inside the Napoleonville Dome failed and initiated a chain of events that created the sinkhole and released methane and crude oil.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources officials, private industry scientists and contractors have been setting up vent wells to burn off the methane in an effort to get evacuees back in their homes and camps.

Debris, possibly from the bottom of the sinkhole, rose to the surface Wednesday, the Texas Brine statement said. That debris is being cleared.

The Assumption Parish Police Jury said in a blog post Wednesday that officials recorded increased seismic activity near the sinkhole between 6 p.m. and midnight Tuesday. The cause of the activity is unknown.

Cleanup crews continued work Wednesday to skim residual hydrocarbon material from the tree-lined southern and southeastern edges of the sinkhole perimeter.

No clean-up activities are scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Texas Brine’s statement said.