NAPOLEONVILLE — Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin “Marty” Triche said Wednesday he has asked for a meeting with area legislators and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources officials about mysterious natural gas releases from area bayous.
A community meeting is planned at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Sportsman’s Landing boat launch parking lot in Bayou Corne, according to a parish news release.
Triche also agreed with a landowner and self-appointed advocate for the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities during a jury meeting that it has taken longer than wanted for DNR and other state agencies to respond fully to the incident.
“We have all agreed to facilitate that meeting, and I think out of that meeting, it’s going to be to get, you know, the DNR officials to recognize that it’s just not an act-of-God situation, and they need some significant people in there to try figure out what’s going on,” Triche said.
“Because they have the resources,” Triche said, “they need to bring them to bear, and I agree they have been taking too long.”
Natural gas has been roiling the surface of Bayou Corne and Bayou Grand in a swampy part of northern Assumption Parish for the past several weeks.
Residents in the area have reported a series of tremors, though officials have not connected the two occurrences.
Local and state officials, including DNR inspectors, have focused on the oil and gas infrastructure and brine operations in the area, including pipelines, abandoned oil and gas wells and salt dome caverns.
Triche said he has spoken to state Reps. Karen St. Germain, D-Plaquemine, and Joe Harrison, R-Houma, about meeting with DNR Secretary Scott Angelle.
Triche said he hoped to hear from St. Germain on Thursday.
Community activist John Achee Jr., 35, had told jurors that while some parish officials have been helpful, the entire Police Jury needed to be involved in what is a parish issue.
Achee, who said he owns land in the area but lives elsewhere, has set up a Facebook page that has become a community forum on the situation. He said he has called a variety of agencies to find an answer.
“Try to put yourself in their shoes, man. I couldn’t go to sleep at night,” Achee said.
“From the research I’ve done, I couldn’t live there. I mean I totally sympathize with the people, and that’s why I am doing what I’m doing,” he said.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Geological Survey official should be at Thursday’s meeting and several other state agencies have been asked to attend, said John Boudreaux, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Boudreaux said there is no known source of the leaking natural gas.
He said DNR officials told him a test of a Chevron Pipeline salt dome cavern nearest the gas leaks appears to be intact. The cavern stores natural gas.
Tests of area pipelines also have not shown any indications of leaks. A check of 17 of 19 abandoned oil and gas wells in the area by DNR and state Department of Environmental Quality officials did not show any indication of leaking gas either, Boudreaux said.
He said his office has asked for assistance from DNR and U.S. Geological Survey geologists, as well as more testing equipment from DEQ, to determine where the gas is coming from. USGS is also bringing seismometers to monitor the tremors.
Henry Welch, 65, who lives in the Bayou Corne area, said he had concerns about getting answers on the natural gas releases in a timely fashion.
“I don’t know where all y’all live at. I know y’all wouldn’t want to live where we’re at,” Welch said. “We don’t know what we’re breathing. The monitoring ain’t showing nothing but gas. What are we breathing?” he asked.
Boudreaux said he could not say what residents are breathing but he said the parish is testing for ignition risk from the gas releases and there is none.