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Sinkhole Disasters Predicted

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Sinkhole disasters occuring in Gulf states, including the collapsing part of Louisiana’s Assumption Parish into a crumbling salt dome “sinkhole,” have been predicted by several experts over the past years, especially since BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil crime began in 2010.

Florida has recently experienced three sinkholes in the same area, one causing the tragic death of a man who was swallowed into the hole. This area is said to be a “seriously unstable.”

Louisiana’s infamous sinkhole grew this week to 13 acres, a lake. This new national sacrifice zone is predicted to continue growing up to the size of 30 football fields.

Are these sinkhole what experts predicted? Is the source of these sinkholes being covered up? 

A look at Louisiana’s collapsing area disaster, some 100 miles from BP-wrecked Macondo well, the Gulf oil crime source, yields both predictions and cover-ups.

For a start, Texas Brine LLC officials said in August 2011 that it had advised Louisiana state officials about the predicted “problem” weeks before the state took any actions and that the disaster could have been prevented.

[See: Sinkhole: DNR alerted weeks ago, could have been prevented, company says]

In August, as Assumption Parish residents experienced rights abuses early in the disaster from what they said was their leaders’ betrayal, parish leaders also expressed anger at state officials.

Their anger was over revelations that Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Texas Brine Co. LLC officials knew since January 2011 about salt cavern problems but withheld that information.

“Texas Brine Co. Saltville LLC president Mark J. Cartwright informed DNR in a January 21, 2011 letter about a failed integrity test of the cavern and company officials’ suspicion that the cavern possibly breached Napoleonville Dome’s outer wall, possibly explaining a loss of pressure in the cavern during the test,” as reported by this author in early August.

“I’m very disappointed in DNR not being up-front,” Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack had then said.

[See: Bayou sinkhole cover up furor]

DNR Secretary Scott Angelle, a state oil and gas point person, resigned without giving reason, but Governor Jindal quickly appointed him to LSU’s Board of Supervisors.

Waguespack and local Homeland Security director John Boudreaux had said that then-DNR Secretary Scott Angelle did not tell them until a meeting the day after the sinkhole was reported that the salt cavern may well have had “problems” in 2010, but Angelle had still not disclosed the failed integrity test.

Angelle then abrupt resigned without giving a reason and Gov. Bobby Jindal quickly appointed him to Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors.

The problematic relation between quakes, salt domes and sinkholes goes back further. Questions justifiably remain about a possible connection between the 2010 BP Gulf oil catastrophe and the Assumption Parish oil and gas disaster.

Explosive methane gas migrating along fault lines from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Peigneur and Bayou Corne sinkhole disaster salt domes has been known oil and gas industry risk since 2005, according to Dr. Sherwood Gagliano.

Gagliano, president of Baton Rouge-based Coastal Environments, Inc., has spent years researching South Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico fault line and their connections to salt domes.

 

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LSNR) recently issued an order for 34 salt dome operators to show how close their oil and gas industry storage caverns are to dome outer edges, and to prove that caverns nearest dome edges are structurally sound.

That was an admission of the state previously failing to ensure such safety measures.

He said about salt domes, “We have over 100 of those facilities on faults in South Louisiana and Texas. They all need to be reevaluated.”

Sixty-one of those salt dome facilities correlate with known subsurface faults, according to a 2005 report by Gagliano.

In 2005, Gagliano led a comprehensive study of suspected relationships between geological faults and subsidence in Southeastern Louisiana, reporting findings in Effects of Earthquakes, Fault Movements, and Subsidence on the South Louisiana Landscape.

“When oil, gas and produced water are removed, localized subsidence and fault movement may occur,” he then reported. “Geological fault movement, compaction and fluid withdrawal are inter-related processes contributing to subsidence.

“Differential movement between the low-density salt and adjacent sedimentary deposits may have a wedging effect on the faults, initiating brine water and gas movement up fault zones,” Gagliano reported. “The water and gas in turn may lubricate the fault plane surfaces and cause instability along fault segments.”

While finding that faulting poses a natural hazard in Louisiana, according to Gagliano, pumping water into the domes, to dissolve salt for brine, as Texas Brine and other companies do, allows methane to migrate along faults and veins.

Like nitrogen, methane is an asphyxiant, meaning it can kill people by displacing oxygen. It can also be the source of explosions if a spark ignites it, as Bayou Corne “sinkhole” area residents and officials justifiably fear some 100 miles from Macondo and the migrating gas.

Soon after the criminal BP Gulf oil catastrophe began, the late Matt Simmons, oil guru, said people, especially in Louisiana, needed to be evacuated due to the Gulf’s “open hole.”

 

Recent oil incidents related to BP’s Gulf catastrophic event and possible fissures or sea cracks in the Macondo Prospect is what attorney Stuart Smith warned in 2010: “that the rig disaster, caused by BP’s reckless and foolish actions, would continue to wreak havoc on the Gulf environment for years to come.” 

Smith has said he believed BP’s “capped” well was breached, as documented in the film,The Big Fix.

Smith is not the only expert who warned about BP’s “capping” of the Macondo Prospect well in the Gulf of Mexico and that the BP Gulf catastrophe would wreak havoc far inland as time passes.

Internationally recognized oil expert, the late Matt Simmons said the entire BP capping of the well was a sham. Scientists then expressed concern that a newly admitted seep and possible methane seen near BP’s well in the Gulf of Mexico were signs of leaks in the well “capped.”

On July 18, 2010, when MSNBC Host Dylan Ratigan asked Simmons, “What do you know about this cap Matt?”, Simmons replied, “The whole thing is just absurd.”

Simmons told Ratigan, “It’s time to stop deceiving the public.”

He also said, “If [BP] acknowledged it, they’d go to jail.”

“This world authority on oil stated (as reported in the Washington Post) all states in the Gulf Coast region must be evacuated, 6 million people, and that the story is 80 times worse than what he’d thought,” Dupré reported on June 27, 2010.

[See: All Gulf states must evacuate}

TIME added the discrediting note that Simmons has been a doomsday reporter on the BP Gulf crisis since it occurred.

"There is no way BP would not know they were misleading everyone," Simmons had said. "They would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind and they're not. These are smart guys."

Simmons repeatedly explained, contradicting mainstream news and TV, "the real blowout as an open hole gushing 120,000 barrels of toxic crude every day below the surface of the Gulf six or seven miles away from the riser. And BP is ignoring it." He had also said, "Any other company would have fessed up right away and called this what it was: a tragedy and a national emergency."

One week before his untimely death, Simmons explained at a community meeting in Camden, Maine, as reported by this reporter, "as oil reaches the upper layer of the Gulf waters, its heavy toxicity will be released, and as it comes ashore over the coming months, people still in the region will be more impacted than they already are."

"There will be a heavy toll on human life," the world renowned oil industry expert and whistleblower had said on July 16, 2010.

The oil insider said at that Camden meeting that the worst effects on human health were yet to come.

"BP confirmed May 21 [2010] that the well is leaking methane, which sparked fears. An earlier BP probe also concluded that a methane bubble created the initial blowout of the wellhead in April,” reported Gulf Breeze News.

BP recruited prominent Louisiana State University and other Gulf Coast area university scientists to participate in its crime and cover up. Those scientists accepted handsome contracts to run tests using “BP” rules, including a gag agreement to ensure they could not testify in courts. (See: Ben Raines, BP buys up Gulf scientists for legal defense, roiling academic community, Press-Register)

After BP’s Deepwater Horizon catastrophe began, independent scientists observed methane concentrations in the Gulf were up to 10,000 times higher than normal, with corresponding oxygen depletion levels.

 

In 2010, USA Today reported startling findings of a June study conducted by ocean chemist John Kessler of Texas A&M University. Kessler and a group of oceanographers from Texas and the University of California-Santa Barbara discovered methane levels in deep-ocean waters near the Macondo Prospect oil well under the exploded Deepwater Horizon oil rig were 10,000 to 100,000 times higher than normal. 

The team had determined that gases were coming up from the same geological layer as the oil.

A Gulf water test sample that expoded was a clarion call about days to come.

No end in sight

After two months of Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities’ residents experiencing and reporting methane gas bubbles and tremors, in August 2012 the parish requested USGS assistance to determine locations and probable cause(s) for this seismic activity.

“USGS immediately detected seismic activity through their monitors and began recording this data; however, no probable cause was able to be detected,” officials said.

According to USGS data of former activity in the area after reports were filed, thousands of earthquakes had occurred, as University of Memphis seismologist Dr. Horton told Dupré. 

Before seismic monitoring started, when questioned about Bayou Corne tremors, the Louisiana DNR officials noted “a 4.2 temblor and the role of ongoing subsidence in Louisiana,” according to the Advocate.

Asked if it is confirmed that failure of the Texas Brine cavern caused the sinkhole, geologist with Shaw Environmental, Gary Hecox said “All the data we’ve looked at so far would lead you to that conclusion, yes.”

What caused the cavern to fail and cause the sinkhole, however, is still questioned by some officials and locals.

The “USGS consensus” is that seismic activity is resultant of the cavern collapse, not cause of it, according to the DNR.

The ongoing April 2010 BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf possible linking to the sinkhole intensified when more news was reported about BP having likely breached the Gulf of Mexico ocean floor and fissures or cracks are leaking methane and oil.

In reference to the 2010 BP Gulf crime, Gary Byerly, Professor of Geology at Louisiana State University, predicted possible inland sinkholes. Byerly said methane and oil was leaking into the Gulf naturally and explained that the weight of rock on the seabed usually restricts leaks to a very slow rate.

He had said that he “could see something like this causing a sinkhole to form” inland.

Oil sheens originating from the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect continue, as does methane seeping.

Government scientists definitively linked a new Gulf of Mexico oil slick, that moved to some 90 miles from the sinkhole, to BP’s 2010 oil catastrophe, saying it was probably from a BP Deepwater Horizon rig pipe, but more than one expert did not buy that pipe source and people demanded evidence about the source of the crude oil, both in the Gulf and the sinkhole.

That reported sheen extended three miles, from near the BP-wrecked Macondo well about 50 miles offshore of Louisiana and about 90 miles from the giant sinkhole that emerged in Bayou Corne. Evidence showed BP had possibly cracked the ocean floor.

So where is the oil coming from? Washington Post reported: “We’re not sure yet. But top oil spill experts – such as UC Berkeley professor and government consultant Robert Bea and LSU professor Ed Overton – have told us that oil blowouts such as the one in the Gulf can create new pathways to the seafloor and enlarge natural oil seeps … so that leaks can continue for years.”

[See: Macondo not dead, BP hiding crude oil source]

“Exactly,” environmental attorney Stuart Smith responded. “But BP and the feds have plenty of good reason not to let people know if this is what’s indeed happening under the Gulf. That’s because that would mean that the Deepwater Horizon spill is still an ongoing event — one with no immediate end in sight — which would thwart the oil giant’s efforts to put the disaster behind them.” (Emphasis added)

 

Smith continued, “In particular, it would really mess up BP’s efforts to settle its ongoing legal woes from the 2010 explosion. I’ve told you a lot recently about problems with BP’s proposed $8.7 billion settlement about claims by Gulf residents and small businesses.”

“These things are not happening in a vacuum. They’re all connected,” Smith asserted, as independent scientists had, relating to the Louisiana sinkhole regurgitating and spreading crude from an unknown source throughout swamplands north of the wrecked Macondo well and cracked ocean floor.

“BP wants to sweep what’s going on at the Macondo field under the rug because it wants to settle its outstanding claims as quickly and with as little damage as possible. We can’t allow this to happen,” Smith asserted.

Smith had explained on Oct. 4, 2012 that since BP wrecked the underwater Macondo well with its catastrophic deep sea drilling, blocked crude was continuing to seek a path to the surface, and that could create fissures or cracks in the sea floor for the hydrocarbons to escape.

The salt dome fault system there in the Gulf is connected to the collapsing salt dome in Louisiana, as well as the problematic Lake Peigneur salt dome where the sheriff recently said there could be a hell of a ctastrophe if the drilling continues

The Coast Guard announced in December 2012 that it “approved another investigation of the BP Macondo wellhead and nearby wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon drillship to determine if they may be the source of a recurring sheen at the site,” according to theTimes Picayune. 

Over two years later, sinkholes have become more problematic in Gulf coast states. Methane increasingly percolates in south Louisiana’s collapsing salt dome “sinkhole” area swamplands, bayous, in residents’ yards and under homes.

Methane has been detected in the aquifer above Louisiana’s 1-mile by 3-mile Napoleonville Salt Dome, farther east and deeper underground in the dome’s hard cap rock.

The state DNR ordered Napoleonville Salt Dome’s seven operators to locate and vent or flare the gas. The spewing methane and other dangerous chemicals there, however, continue to pose a threat of an explosion.

Meanwhile, internal organs of the Gulf Coast region human population continue accumulating lethal toxins to the point that intellectually honest experts, such as Mark Sircus, have urged everyone in the Gulf Coast area to “Get the hell out.”

Photo credit: Theness.com

__________

Deborah Dupré is author of  Vampire of Macondo, packed with 450 pages of censored stories about the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, still-gushing crude and methane and causing catastrophic human and environmental rights abuses. Contact Ms. Dupré by email: [email protected].

Also see: 

Exclusive: Censored Gulf news: New Orleans, eyes throats burn, ‘Get the hell out now’



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