Hutchinson, Kansas [8-2] –
Officials to eye local cavern
Other sites’ prior sink-hole issues spur plan for check.
By John Green – The Hutchinson News –
A large drilling rig will show up near 11th Avenue and Lorraine Street next week as state environmental officials assess the stability of a long forgotten salt-mine cavern in the high-traffic area.
“We’re working with the responsible party for the brine cavern – Morton Salt – on investigating the cavern, to see how it looks,” said Mike Cochrane, chief of the Geology Section in the Division of Environment at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
“We’re seeing what the rock looks like to determine the long-term stability of the cavern,” Cochrane said.
There have been no indications of subsidence or instability, but with the commercial growth and amount of traffic in the area, officials decided it was important to assess any danger.
“There’s no indication of any imminent problems with the cavern,” Cochrane said. “But it’s a busy area. We do feel it needs investigated. We’ll run test logs on the strength of the rock and then plan the next action, which may be some longer-term monitoring, to judge the long-term stability.”
The cavern, developed around 1910 through salt-brine production, is about 130 feet in diameter and 65 feet tall. The cavern is beneath an area that currently is a vacant lot and parking lot, south of the new Fairfield Inn, Cochrane said.
The rig will bore a hole into the cavern and then seismic tests will be run on the rock.
“Tentatively, it looks like activity could be going on there for three months,” Cochrane said. “They’ll be doing a lot of work. It’s a good investigative plan by the company. The drilling rig will be at the location a number of days.”
In January 2001, natural gas pumped into a storage cavern in the Yaggy gas storage field northeast of Hutchinson leaked through a hole in a fill pipe into rock fissures and traveled seven miles underground into Hutchinson. The leaked gas escaping to the surface through old salt-brine wells resulted in explosions that destroyed two downtown buildings and killed a couple in a local trailer park.
Officials installed vent wells around the city to try to burn off the escaped gas. Officials later studying data from a vent well near 11th and Lorraine discovered the neighboring cavern, Cochrane said.
It was, however, only after a sink hole from another salt cavern occurred in January 2005, about a quarter-mile north of the 2000 block of Carey and less than 100 yards from a Burlington Northern railroad track, that officials decided other caverns around the city should be assessed for their safety.
That resulted in salt company VigIndustries buying out 37 homes in the Careyville area during the summer of 2011 and removing them, then fencing off the acreage, because of concerns about the potential for sinkholes in that area.
Wait! In 2005 they had a big problem and gas leaks. That means Texas Brine’s mantra, “This never happened before” is a big LIE!
( Emphasis added, reprinted here in whole because page wouldn’t load – We are reprinting under section 107 of the FAIR USE rule)
Photo and graphics of the cavern
In 2001: An explosion in downtown Hutchinson destroyed two businesses and damaged 26 others Wednesday. Then today, another explosion at a trailer park left two people critically injured when their trailer suddenly blew up, said Hutchison Police Officer Darrin Truan.