Letter: Texas Brine has made progress

Over the past year, significant progress has been made in response to the sinkhole near Bayou Corne. We understand there is still frustration, and we’re sorry lives have been disrupted. We remain focused on completing the four key objectives identified by local and state officials: confirming dome stability, sinkhole containment, venting natural gas and supporting the community.

As we developed a better understanding of the environment, operations became more targeted and ultimately more effective, leading to many positive developments vital to ensuring public safety and meeting environmental objectives.

Operations include:

  • Three vertical seismic profiles and an unprecedented 3-D reflection seismic study covering 2.5 square miles.
  • A 7,300 lineal-foot containment system supplemented by containment boom and continuous monitoring.
  • 24 shallow geoprobe wells and six pressure-monitoring wells determining gas location and pressures.
  • 189 borings defining the subsurface and evaluating gas depletion.
  • 47 relief wells venting natural gas.
  • Six surface seismic stations and three geophone wells providing extraordinarily sensitive, real-time seismic monitoring.

Technical studies demonstrated there is no threat of additional sinkholes, and the Napoleonville dome’s western flank remains stable.

A levee system is in place, and the sinkhole contents are contained. Gradual continuing growth of the sinkhole is expected; however, scientific consensus, even in worst-case scenarios, shows no impact to Bayou Corne or La. 70.

Testing shows the shallow surface water in the sinkhole is virtually identical to that of the surrounding area. Our program to locate and mitigate shallow gas in the aquifer has made great progress.

Well-venting rates continue to decline, indicating progress is being made in depleting the area gas cap. Air-quality testing confirms the continuing absence of contaminants that could pose a health risk, and no positive LEL detections have occurred in any homes.

Texas Brine reached settlements with more than 70 percent of the Bayou Corne residents who participated and has paid $8.2 million in evacuation support to qualifying residents.

We remain grateful no injuries occurred as a result of the sinkhole. As we enter 2014, our work continues.

Our operations are guided by facts and responsible science, and data derived from this approach show no immediate safety concerns posed to the evacuation area. Our goal is to transition from active response to long-term monitoring and maintenance. Our commitment to Bayou Corne will continue for years, and we will keep the community informed of ongoing operations.

Bruce E. Martin

vice president of operations, Texas Brine Co. LLC

Houston