More natural gas has been seen bubbling in the Bayou Corne community and nearby woods after heavy rains this month, the Advocate reported Saturday.
Assumption Parish's Cajun swampland settlement has been evacuated over five months since a large "sinkhole" developed and the Napoleonville Salt Dome began collapsing.
Locals are seeing escalated visible gas bubbling, say residents and now, officials.
The oil and gas industry disaster in Assumption Parish, approximately 50 miles from Baton Rouge and 70 miles from New Orleans, has been called a "BP Gulf oil disaster on land."
(Watch Bayou Corne Sinkhole: PLEASE HELP US! video on this page at the left.)
High water last week inundated wooded swampland across Crawfish Stew Street in a neighborhood north of La. 70 South, according to locals, as first reported by the Examiner in a breaking news report with video evidence on Friday.
One of those locals, Nick Romero, 64, said Friday that he noticed bubbles last week after heavy rains and high water. He thinks more bubble sites have emerged since then in the woods.
“I’m seeing more little spots,” he said.
The swamps and bayous typically rise in the spring. Officials have said that the expanding "sinkhole" could become the size of 30 football fields. It could become a lake, joining Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne.
Some officials believe that one of Texas Brine Co. LLC's two salt caverns failed and caused the now 8.5-acre "sinkhole" south of Romero's neighborhood; the release of crude oil, radiation and hydrogen sulfide; thousands of earthquakes, and methane gas entering the aquifer beneath the community.
An estimated 50 million to 100 million cubic feet of gas is spawning bubble sites in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou, from the sinkhole, and sites near land-based water wells, according to officials.
Officials say community air monitors, one aerial overflight last summer and in-home testing have not detected methane from land or in homes, according to the Advocate.
Bubbles were seen and video recorded by locals Friday in shallow water left by heavy rain storms this month. Bubbles also appeared off and on in spots in the wooded swamp.
The most consistent bubble site was near a metal stake driven in the ground for a utility pole guy wire. Bubbles also have been seen in a puddle around a guy wire stake a near Romero’s house.
He said his concern is about how close underground gas is to the surface of the ground.
“To me, I’m thinking the gas is closer to the surface than they think,” Romero said.
Scientists working for the Louisiana Office of Conservation fear methane could become trapped, accumulate in homes and cause an explosion. The state agency ordered Texas Brine to install industrial grade in-home monitor devices and to drill wells to burn the gas.
The fear of an explosion reinforces the mandatory evacuation order issued Aug. 3. The parish, however, has not enforced the mandatory evacuation. Some people, such as Romero, have remained.
Patrick Courreges, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said in a statement Friday that the guy-wire stake driven several feet into the ground had become a likely conduit allowing shallow natural gas to reach the surface.
Several weeks ago, contractors working on the sinkhole response attempted to install an elevation benchmark in the same area as the guy-wire.
Courreges pointed out that Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., oil and gas industry scientists contracted by the state DNR Office of Conservation, have noted that natural gas in the aquifer “could push methane in low concentrations into near-surface soils.”
The state's Department of Natural Resources Office of Conservation and Shaw continue “to analyze the situation as part of the ongoing response effort to ensure public safety and return the Bayou Corne community to normal.”
Discovery of the latest bubble sites are yet another sign of inadequate response by state officials. Many are now calling for federal intervention.
Nara Crowley, president of Save Lake Peigneur, distributed an email this week about the new bubbles, asking citizens to sign an online petition to the White House calling for a federal emergency declaration.
Texas Brine has installed methane monitors in Romero's house, metal shed, boat shed and outside his house, but detected no gas.
“I’m just playing wait and see what happens,” Romero said. “If these monitors go off and they get a hit, I may have to get out.”
If methane is bubbling into storm waters, questions remain. What is the threshold setting of the monitors and what independent group is monitoring the monitors?
The Shaw Group has been recently issued a Notice of Violation for underreporting "alarming" radiation in California.
Human Rights news reporter Deborah Dupré is author of "Vampire of Macondo, Life, crimes and curses in south Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don't want you to know," packed with censored stories about the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico that continues causing catastrophic human and environmental devastation.
See the "Vampire of Macondo" book trailer, "First book to reveal BP Gulf Oil Human Rights Abuses."
Follow Dupré on Twitter @DeborahDupre. For radio and television interviews, email email@example.com.