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Sheriff Tells Jindal Stop Salt Dome Expansion

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The Chief Law Enforcement officer where a controversial salt dome in south Louisiana has stepped up to the plate this week to defend the people from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s oil and gas industry human rights abuses. Wednesday, the sheriff requested in writing for Jindal to halt the risky expansion of oil and gas industry mining and storage facility under bubbling Lake Peigneur.

Sheriff Louis M. Ackal of Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office sent an official letter Gov. Bobby Jindal, urging him to stop the expansion of industry mining and storage at a salt dome under bubbling Lake Peigneur.

The state is following corporate rule to expand the salt dome under Lake Peigneur, despite the collapsing salt dome 50 miles away at Bayou Corne and despite the 1980 Lake Peigneur Salt Dome catastrophe. 

Louisiana’s Napoleonville Salt Dome is collapsing. The Bayou Corne “sinkhole” is anticipated to become 30 football fields large, a salt, hydrocarbon and other chemical lake, ruining the unique swampland eco-sytem and lives of hundreds of Cajuns.

Lake Peigneur residents have already experienced a similar catastrophic oil event and say they want to prevent another one. They are gratefult that their sheriff is on their side.

Deathly fear 

Many, including State Senator Fred Mill, have spoken out about the domes, saying Bayou Corne is heading toward another Lake Peigneur catastrophic event.

Ackal told Jindal in the letter why protecting rights of the local people is of even greater interest to the sheriff.

“November 20, 1980, was a day I will never forget. I was Captain of Louisiana State Police Troop I when the emergency call came in regarding the Jefferson Island Salt Mine collapse. As the earth trembled like an earthquake, I could not believe what I was seeing — the drilling platform, tugboats, barges, and over 65 acres of land were washed into the Jefferson Island Salt Mine.

“The water was rushing into the mine so fast that it displaced air and caused geysers over 400 feet high. I was deathly afraid for life and property.”

Iberia Sherrif Louis Ackal

Structural strength unsound

Sheriff Ackal also explains that the salt dome already under initial development to be expanded at Lake Peigneur, without public consent, differs to other salt domes in terms of structural strength. 

“In regards to the structural strength, the salt dome beneath Jefferson Island and Lake Peigneur is not all pure salt.”

The sheriff says that according to a 1976 report by D.H. Kupfer, a “shear zone” separates two spines of salt there.

“These two spines of salt that compromise the Jefferson Island salt dome rose separately at different times in history, trapping sand and other impurities in this shear zone within the dome.

“The premise of storing pressurized natural gas in a salt dome is for the structural strength of the pure salt that it contains. If gas is under pressure, it will continually push against the walls of the salt cavern. If these salt caverns have grown near or into a shear zone, it is very likely the pressurized gas could find a weak point in the impurities of the salt structure and escape the cavern. Having said this, I am deeply disturbed that the Office of Coastal Management has already issued a permit for dredging with DEQ not having enough knowledge of the 1980 catastrophe and the structural damage the salt mine incurred.

Aquifer providing the only drinking water to residents at risk

Sheriff Ackal says, “Further, the proposed expansion will require over 7 billion gallons of water from the Chicot Aquifer. Officials from the Louisiana Water Company have already voiced concerns about the quality of water this will present for residents. In addition, these officials have also warned DEQ that the leaching of the two new salt caverns will yield a by-product called ‘brine’, which is super-saturated salt water.

“AGL will pump the brine by-product through a disposal pipe into the sediment below the Chicot Aquifer. If there is breach in the disposal pipe (science proves that salt water corrodes metal) brine water could leak out into the Chicot Aquifer, contaminating the drinking water supply for our area.

Referring to the 1980 Lake Peigneur Salt Dome catastrophe, the sheriff says, “An engineering miscalculation caused millions of dollars in damage that ill-fated day. ”Are we so complacent that we think this can never happen again?

“The cries of residents from Delcambre, New Iberia and along Lake Peigneur have fallen on deaf ears.

“Governor, you know what it is like for people to plead for help from government officials and have their wishes dismissed. We see this every single day from the federal government.

In a heartfelt plea to the governor, Sheriff Ackal writes:

Governor Jindal. please put a halt to this project once and for all. The consequences to the people of Iberia and Vermilion Parish are just not worth it. The enormous affects of what could happen at Lake Peigneur will make the Assumption Parish/Bayou Come incident look like a mud hole: and this hole is still growing. Look at the impact it has had thus far.

In closing, I cannot express how distressed I am over the future of Lake Peignuer and the residents of Iberia Parish. As Sheriff of Iberia Parish. I am sworn to protect the people of this parish and I will always honor that oath. That said. I believe it is incumbent upon me to tell you what I know and have experienced firsthand with regards to Lake Peigneur.

Governor Jindal, I am appealing to you with all that I have for you to stop this expansion. For your viewing, I have enclosed a copy of the Jefferson Island Salt Dome collapse. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my desperate plea.

Sheriff vs Police in terms of defending human rights

The people elect the sheriff. The sheriff is tasked with protecting the people and their rights.

In light of today’s rioting in Brooklyn against police brutality and the killing of 16-year-old Kimani Gray, a commenter has written to remind Americans, “The CITY is nothing more than a corporation. This Corporation DOES NOT need its own POLICE FORCE.

He asserts: “Abolish the CITY POLICE DEPARTMENTS” and “Rely on the County Sheriff and deputies to ENFORCE THE LAWS of the county.

“The Sheriff is ELECTED by THE PEOPLE and can be voted out if the Sheriff or the deputies get out of line. Telling the city to do something about its employees is like telling Walmart to do something about its employees. You are being screwed by CORPORATE FASCISM. What will you do about it?”

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    Total 2 comments
    • Betsy.B.Scott

      That’s honorable that he stepped up and spoke publicly on the issue. I hate saying this but this don’t mean Jindal or even the federal government are going to do anything about it.

      • Deborah Dupre

        As I grow older, I like sheriffs more and more, especially those like Ackal, who is obviously is doing all he can to defend the people. These noble men need our support.

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