House to Consider Salt Dome Legislation Prompted by Louisiana Sinkhole

April 27, 2013

Two measures aimed at regulating the operations of salt domes, prompted by a 13-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish, made it out of a House committee and could be debated on the House floor next week.

The bills (House Bills 493 and 494) by Rep. Karen St. Germain, D-Pierre Part, were approved without objection by the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee.

St. Germain represents a district that includes the sinkhole near Bayou Corne that officials say was caused by a collapsed underground salt cavern. The sinkhole was discovered in August and has resulted in an on-going evacuation order for 150 residents.

The proposals would require stricter guidelines for monitoring and assessing areas around salt domes. One measure calls for surveying salt dome formations every five years, and the other requires legal notification of the location of underground caverns to prospective property owners.

A salt dome is a large, naturally occurring underground salt deposit. Companies drill on the dome’s outskirts and inject water to extract brine that is used in petrochemical refining, creating caverns that can be used to store such things as hydrocarbons.

The state Department of Natural Resources says 120 salt domes are located throughout the state and contain about 270 solution mine caverns, 50 of which are no longer used.

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