Sheriff: If La. salt dome collapses, ‘It would be hell of a catastrophe’

(EXAMINER)   A Chief Law Enforcement officer in South Louisiana where a controversial salt dome links to bubbling waters is trying to defend people there from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s oil and gas industry human rights abuses by asking the governor in writing to stop, but the governor has been unresponsive, according to KATC news Friday.

“If we have a collapse there, it would be a hell of a catastrophe and it worries me. It has worried me for many years. Seeing it first hand, I know what could happen,” said Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal.

In attempt to ensure human rights of locals protected, in a March 13 letter to Gov. Jindal, Ackal urged the governor to halt the risky expansion of oil and gas industry mining and storage facility under bubbling Lake Peigneur, as first reported by this writer on Before It’s News.

Ackal “vividly remembers the Jefferson Island Salt Mine Collapse in 1980 and is now asking Governor Bobby Jindal to stop AGL Resources from expanding its natural gas storage caverns at Lake Peigneur,” KATC’sreporter Chris Welty reports.

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

Now, Louisiana’s 1-mile by 3-mile 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. It has swallowed 12 acres since early August.

Lake Peigneur residents, including Ackal, have experienced their salt dome catastrophic event at their lake and have been battling for years to prevent another one, with no help, only hindrances from state government.

(Watch the video on the left side of this page. On the bank of the bubbling lake 50 miles from Louisiana’s collapsing salt dome at Bayou Corne, Deborah Dupré interviews head of Save Lake Peigneur, Nara Crowley on Nov. 2012.)

This week, Crowley and others say they are truly grateful that their sheriff is on their side.

So far, however, their governor has not responded to the sheriff’s letter to him.

Sheirff Ackal says the sinkhole in Assumption Parish would be a “mud puddle” compared to what he thinks could happen at Lake Peigneur.

“I’m not a scientist. I’m not an environmental wacko.” Ackal told KATC. “I’m a sheriff who is concerned about the people and the homes around there.”

‘Not worth a damn penny’

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,” the sheriff wrote to Jindal. “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.”

Ackal wants proof that the salt dome at Lake Peigneur is safe, and he wants answers to why bubbling happens there sporadically.

For years, the state officials and scientists have been unable to answer those concerns.

A couple of weeks ago, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources approved a permit that the company AGL needs to dredge and lay pipe to expand the salt dome storage facilty.

That permit came with a stipulation: “AGL first needs a permit to expand and create more caverns. So, right now the project is at a standstill,” according to KATC.

“Whatever monies it is paying the State of Louisiana to use that dome is not worth a damn penny of it if it’s going to endanger the lives and property of the people that live out there,” said Ackal.

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