POSTED: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 4:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 4:04am
BAYOU CORNE, LA — Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh announced that his Office has issued Texas Brine LLC $160,000 in new fines for continued failure to comply with provisions of his November 12 directive to the company. These fines follow $100,000 in penalties already issued to the company for noncompliance earlier this month.
Welsh on Nov. 12 gave Texas Brine new orders, amending the already existing Declaration of Emergency and Directive. The new orders intended to further the ongoing efforts to protect public safety and the environment in the area, abate the impacts of natural gas that migrated to the aquifer due to the failure of Texas Brine’s cavern, and prevent the release of crude oil from the sinkhole created when the company’s cavern wall collapsed.
Combined with the fines assessed as of Dec. 1, the penalties assessed today bring the total amount Conservation has fined Texas Brine to $260,000.
Texas Brine has been assessed new civil penalties of:
· $80,000 for continued failure to initiate installation of a containment system around the sinkhole to further prevent release of contaminants into nearby waterway
· $80,000 for continued failure to install in-home monitors to detect possible natural gas accumulations and upgraded home ventilation for all slab-foundation
“The goals and mission of the state and the Office of Conservation in this situation are to take all necessary actions and measures within our legal authority to protect the safety of the public and the environment, and to get the lives of Bayou Corne residents back to normal as soon as possible,” Welsh said. “If monetary penalties are what is required to provide Texas Brine with the same sense of urgency Conservation feels in addressing the problems caused by the failure of the company’s cavern, then we’ll continue to make clear to the company the cost of its inaction.”
Welsh said, since the issuance of the Dec. 1 fines, Texas Brine has been unable to comply with Conservation’s order to begin installation of two new observation/vent wells in the area near its facility. Texas Brine reports that it has not been granted access by property owners to begin the work.
Welsh’s notice to Texas Brine on the fines requires immediate payment of the civil penalties and compliance with all provisions of the Nov. 12 directive, and includes the warning that additional actions, including further fines, can still be taken if the company continues its failure to comply with the Office of Conservation’s directions.