Environmental Threats In Louisiana as a Result of the Oil and Gas Industry

Leadership Meeting
New Orleans, LA
October 11, 2013

By Wilma Subra
Subra Company
Louisiana Environmental Action Network

Oil and Gas Wells

There are 4,000 drilling and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The majority of the platforms are off the coast of Louisiana. Thousands of producing wells are also located in the territorial seas off the coast of Louisiana, within three miles of the shore and under state jurisdiction.

Each platform serves a number of producing wells that produce crude oil, natural gas and condensate. The products are transported on shore through a maze of pipelines.

There are also more than 40,000 producing oil and gas wells on land in the state of Louisiana.

The oil and gas wells on shore and off shore leak, spill and discharge toxic chemicals, crude oil, natural gas and produced water on a regular and ongoing basis. These toxic chemicals have a severe impact on the environment of Louisiana including contamination of the air, soil, sediment, surface and groundwater resources, aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna, and humans.

The Taylor well platform in the Gulf of Mexico, off the shores of Louisiana, was damaged by a hurricane in 2004. Since that time the well has continued to leak crude oil into the Gulf on a constant basis and generates a slick up to 20 miles in length. The Louisiana Environmental Action Network website has a continuing documentation of the leaking Taylor well, as well as other wells leaking in the Gulf and Louisiana coastal waters.
Orphan and Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

Many thousands of Orphan and Abandoned oil and gas wells and facilities on shore and off shore are contaminating the environment in Louisiana. The number of known sites increases each year as more sites are discovered than can be cleaned up with available resources.

Seaports and Import Facilities

Louisiana has six seaports and import facilities for oil and gas and four natural gas hubs. The Henry Hub in Vermilion Parish imports 50% of the natural gas used in the United States from Gulf of Mexico production. The price of natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange is set at the Henry Hub.

Operable Petroleum Refineries

Louisiana 18

The Petroleum Refineries are concentrated in Baton Rouge, Sulphur, Westlake/Mossville, Convent, Norco, and Chalmette.

The crude oil refined by these refineries comes from conventional domestic production, foreign imports, shale oil and Canadian Tar Sands. Eight million barrels of crude oil are refined each day at Gulf of Mexico refineries. This is half of the refining capacity in the US.

Petrochemical Facilities

Louisiana 54

Petrochemical Facilities convert hydrocarbon based raw materials into petrochemicals, manufacture organic chemicals, plastics and resins.

The major Petrochemical Facilities are located in Baton Rouge, Laplace, Norco, Geismar, Sulphur/Mossville, Plaquemine.

The petroleum refineries and petrochemical facilities release extremely large quantities of very toxic chemicals into the air, land and water. Accidental releases and upset conditions, as well as explosions and fires, are a frequent occurrence. Many of the facilities have extensive ground water pollution plumes.

Major Shale Plays

Shale plays are very deep formations that were not economically feasible to produce until tax incentives were provided and horizontal fracturing technologies were developed. The technology is far out distancing the ability of state governmental agencies to regulate shale drilling, fracturing and production. The development of the shale plays is considered unconventional development and is having extensive negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Haynesville-Bossier – North East Texas and North West Louisiana
Shreveport – gas – 2,400 wells drilled

Tuscaloosa – South Central Louisiana and Western Mississippi – oil and gas

The oil from coastal shales and from the Bakken shale play in North Dakota is transported to the petroleum refineries in Louisiana for refining. The Bakken shale is a sour crude with large quantities of hydrogen sulfide and is being used to replace Venezuelan crude by Louisiana refineries. The Bakken shale oil is transported by train to the St. James Terminal in Louisiana for distribution to refineries on the gulf coast.

The St. James terminal is connected to a loop off-loading facility which constantly unload train cars 24 hours per day. The St. James terminal was constructed in the 1970’s to distribute oil by pipeline to the strategic petroleum reserve sites in Louisiana.

A new train terminal is being proposed in Raceland for distribution of the Bakken shale oil to refineries in Louisiana.


Pipelines connect production sites, gas processing facilities, petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, and industrial and consumer users throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The pipelines transport crude oil including Canadian Tar Sands, natural gas, and refined chemical products such as gasoline, benzene, jet fuel, etc. Along the pipeline corridors are located gas processing facilities, compressor stations, pigging stations, valving locations, metering stations, storage tanks and glycol dehydration stations. The heaviest concentrations of pipelines are on shore and offshore in Louisiana.

Existing pipelines serving the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in the North Eastern United States are being repurposed to transport the shale gas produced from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to the expanding petrochemical facilities and LNG export facilities in Louisiana and Texas.

Pipelines and their associated units contribute extensively to environmental contamination as a result of leaks and spills, venting and failures.

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG)

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas that is cooled and compressed to a liquid to make shipping in specially designed ships more economical. Until gas shale plays across the United States were developed, there was a shortage of domestic natural gas resources and a need to import natural gas for domestic consumption. The current operating natural gas import terminals are concentrated along the Gulf Cost in Louisiana and Texas. Now that there is an excess of natural gas being produced in the United States from the shale plays, the liquefied natural gas export market is driving the LNG facility development picture.

There are six proposed LNG export terminals in Louisiana.

Louisiana has the first export facility approved by DOE and FERC in May 2011, the Chenier facility in Cameron Parish. It will export 2.2 billion cu ft of LNG per day to non-free trade countries. It is in the pre-construction phase.

In May 2013, the proposed Freeport, Texas LNG Expansion facility on Quintana Island received approval by DOE. The Freeport facility is approved to export 1.4 billion cu ft of LNG per day.

On August 7, 2013, Lake Charles Exports facility was approved by DOE to export 2.0 billion cu ft of LNG per day.

The administration can allow 5.6 billion cu ft of LNG to be exported to non-free trade agreement countries. These three LNG export facilities are approved to export the entire 5.6 billion cu ft of LNG per day that the administration will allow.

The availability of large quantities of shale gas at cheap prices is driving the need for and development of more salt dome storage facilities to provide storage for the large quantities of produced natural gas, the extension of pipelines to connect to the export facilities and the new industrial facilities in the Lake Charles(Sasol) and Ascension parish (Shell) areas for gas to liquid processing facilities. The proposed gas to liquid facilities will consume very large quantities of the cheap natural gas from all of the shale gas plays in the United States including the Marcellus and Utica in the northeast, the Bakken in North Dakota, as well as the Barnett and Eagle Ford shales in Texas and the Haynesville and Tuscalousa shales in Louisiana.


Twenty percent of the 500 coal burning power plants in the United States are expected to shut down in the next few years. Coal producing companies have thus targeted export markets for their coal production.

Along the Mississippi River in Louisiana, there are five coal export terminals. Three of these export facilities have the capacity to export 25 million tons of coal per year. Two new coal export facilities are in the permitting phase.

These terminals receive coal by barge, rail and truck and export to foreign countries by ship. The operations cause extensive particle matter air contamination, surface water pollution and human health impacts to communities living in the area.

A large number of mid stream stevedoring operations transfer coal from barges to ships and wash out the coal barges and dump the residual coal into the waters of the Mississippi River.

Coal terminals in the New Orleans area are increasing their export quantities by exporting Powder River Basin, Colorado and Illinois Basin coal. These exports are destined for European markets.

Energy Sector Impacts

The toxic emissions, discharges, leaks, spills, and waste from the energy sector have had a very large impact on the environment in Louisiana as well as the quantity of green house gases released and contributing extensively to global warming impacts. In addition, the released toxic chemicals and waste have resulted in extensive contamination of the environment and have resulted in severe acute and chronic human health impacts. The human health impacts are experienced by communities living in the areas of the facilities and infrastructure and by the workers employed in the energy sector.

The additional facilities and infrastructure being proposed in Louisiana will add an even greater burden to the environment and degrade the quality of life which is so important to those living in our state.

The economic impacts of the energy sector are huge, but for the most part, not enjoyed by the impacted communities. The environmental and human health impacts of the energy sector are extensive, an extreme burden to the communities and additional degradation will occur with the new focus of energy development in Louisiana.

Louisiana Environmental Action Network       LEAN face book page

Wednesday News – Let’s hope there isn’t any!

This may be a bunch of nothing – but . . . . Home destroyed in apparent explosion in New Jersey’s Hunterdon County

On the legal front, we have this from a law firm representing some from Bayou Corne –

Martzell828  We copied the text as it is important for litigants-

  • Larry Centola III, of Martzell & Bickford Law Firm, Appointed to Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee Handling the Bayou Corne Sinkhole LawsuitsNEW ORLEANS, LA, – On December 5, 2012, a federal judge in New Orleans appointed the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (“PSC”) in the Bayou Corne Sinkhole lawsuit. The Court ordered that all plaintiffs are directed to act through the PSC for all issues requiring the Court’s attention. Members of the PSC have been at the forefront of this litigation since the first filings. Larry Centola III, Esq., of Martzell & Bickford has been appointed to the PSC. Mr. Centola has substantial experience and much success in representing the interests of Plaintiffs in other similar, complex litigations. The Bayou Corne Sinkhole lawsuit involves potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of victims. Texas Brine LLC is involved in the Bayou Corne sinkhole incident and was recently fined $100,000 by the Department of Natural Resources for failing to obey several safety directives the state issued Nov. 12 regarding the sinkhole in Assumption Parish. For more information about the current settlement or about the Bayou Corne Sinkhole litigation, contact one of our attorneys at the Law Office of Martzell and Bickford: (504) 581-9065.

Texas:  Owner of ETX fertilizer plant: ‘I comply with all rules’

PANOLA COUNTY, TX (KLTV) – The owner of a Carthage fertilizer company said he complies with all mandatory rules, after the State Fire Marshal’s office reported his was one of just five facilities in the state that declined an inspection.
Anderson Fertilizer Company typically stores anywhere from 25 to 40 tons of ammonia nitrate, the same chemical stored at the plant that exploded in West in April. . . .”

Special operations troops train in New Orleans < and they scared everybody doing it

Hungry Sinkhole Swallows More Trees

WAFB – Louisiana sinkhole swallows more trees < VIDEO

LA Times – A strong voice in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley
Wilma Subra, a diminutive grandmother, has long challenged the corporate polluters in one of the nation’s most toxic regions.

A page of great Julie Dermansky photos (don’t re-use, copyrighted)

WRKF radio show , The Jim Engster Show, has interview with Lt. General Russel Honore. (podcast)

“Jim chats with Lt. General Russel Honore (U.S. Army ret.), about the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina later this week. The General was placed in charge of the response to the storm and the flood disaster in New Orleans that followed. He also talks about the 50th anniversary of the civil rights March on Washington.”   He said he planned a big media event after his tour of Bayou Corne. So there must’ve been some kind of press conference. Some news should appear soon.

He will speak at Methodist University on Sept. 6th. Open to the public.

Lake Peigneur Hearing Update

AGL Resources, Jefferson Island Storage & Hub, is expanding 2 of their natural gas storage caverns, and adding 2 more under Lake Peigneur that has already had one disaster. 

Famous You Tube video of the monster Lake Peigneur sinkhole

8/19/2013 Hearing at the Iberia Courthouse in New Iberia.
Save Lake Peigneur and LEAN group sued to hold the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources accountable.

Representatives from the Dept. of Natural Resources, Coastal Management, and Jefferson Island Storage & Hub were there. Attorney Lisa Jordan from Tulane represented SLP, Nara Crowley and also Wilma Subra and more than 45 people supporting Save Lake Peigneur filled the courtroom.

The DNR attorney, Billy Jones, argued that because even though Coastal Management issued the permit because the permit states that nothing can move forward unless the other permits are issued, that is was not the time to sue.

Attorney Lisa Jordan argued that the DNR was wrong in their argument. She stated that the DNR failed in their own regulatory discretion. Ms. Jordan argued that the JISH argument puts us in a Trick Bag. She also stated that the permit issued is final.  Many times Ms. Jordan stated that what the DNR said was not true.

Whether or not the suit will be allowed to continue has not been decided yet. There will be 10 days to brief, and 30 days for the judge to decide, but at least the case was not dismissed.

Here are  the TV interviews at the hearing 8/19/2013 in New Iberia-

LINK –  http://youtu.be/EBkC1Qk06iM

Save Lake Peigneur lawsuit hearing

Report Back from the BIG MEETING July 3 with Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré – DNR Responds

BAYOU CORNE, LA — The Assumption Parish Pierre Part library was the meeting place of a support group of the residents of Bayou Corne. Some people from Save Lake Peigneur group and I were invited to the meeting by  Bayou Corne resident Mike Schaff.  Mike officiated the meeting.
There to help assist them was Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré

Lake General Honore uniform

The people in Bayou Corne are praying that General Honoré will be able to help. General Honore spoke of human rights, and how our country was set up. He stated that the most powerful thing people have is public notification.  The people have the opportunity to tell the nation, state, that we have a problem; he stated that bad news does not get better with age. General Honoré stated that “We have an environmental and human disaster here”.  “You have the right to be heard” he explained.

Mike Schaff asked Nara Crowley of Save Lake Peigneur to speak of their fight of 8 years to stop any more salt dome caverns being leached out for natural gas storage. She stated that there is already bubbling in the lake, the cause is not known. AGL Resources could put 20 more caverns under the lake, without approval once this permit is issued.  The Chicot aquifer, aquifer for 15 parishes, has never recovered from the first salt dome leaching. AGL Resources has stated on their JISH web site, that they will use 5 million gallons a day to leach out 2 more caverns.

The Bayou Corne Blue Ribbon Committee member reported that there is H2S gas under some house slabs. He also stated that at one time Texas Brine wanted to stop monitoring. There is also natural gas in their aquifer. Some residents spoke of persons who are monitoring the air are riding down the street using equipment with their vehicle windows closed and thought they would not get a correct reading.

Emotions were high.  There were people crying as they spoke of their problems, and I cried with them.  One lady, whose husband has Parkinson’s, who evacuated needs to borrow money to get another house.  Two mortgage companies denied her and another said Texas Brine would have to sign a letter stating that they are going to continue to pay her for 3 years.  One may think that getting $875 a week is enough, but people still have to pay their mortgage on the home they are not living in, plus another place to live.

Some of the community is being divided by frustrations.  Next month, August, it will be one year and the sinkhole continues to expand. People spoke of their insurance companies dropping them.
How long will Texas Brine Co LLC a Limited Liability Company (Non-Louisiana) continue to pay for destroying these people’s lives?  Texas Brine’s three insurance companies have caps. The state of Louisiana has billed Texas Brine Co. which it blames for the massive sinkhole,   $3.5 million dollars. Texas Brine is fighting these fines, a tally of state response efforts to the sinkhole from six different agencies.  And now there are talks of closing Hwy 70.  To see how close to the sinkhole, watch this video taken by a resident of Bayou Corne. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABqdY7SZm1U

What will the cost be to taxpayers to reroute Hwy 70?  Already the parish is losing money.  Texas Brine will not have the money to pay the state for a new highway.

You, the taxpayers of Louisiana, will pay for this disaster!

Texas Brine Co. is being sued by other companies for forcing the permanent closure of their gas pipelines.

Wilma Subra, Subra Company, was there to help these people to understand their exposure and health effects.

Texas Brine and the Department of Environmental Quality are monitoring levels of natural gas that is floating in the aquifer and other levels of gas. Wilma stated that there had been no readings since last Friday, and did not know what is going on. Wilma said that there times when the equipment had not been setup to monitor smelly odors.

The late Mel Leavitt’s, WDSU New Orleans,  daughter, came from New Orleans to offer her help.  She was much appreciated.

At the end of the meeting on the ride back to Iberia/Vermilion parish I thought how terrible these people have been treated.  Our own Governor Jindal did not even to bother to visit Bayou Corne for 7 months.  HB493 and HB494 have been passed, but it is too late to help Bayou Corne residents. Where is the EPA?  Are the people who work for DNR, DEQ, EPA, just following their job duties?   The laws that might protect people’s lives and property that live in these areas are written and passed by our senators and representatives.  SB200 by Senator Mills to protect the lives and property of the people that live around Lake Peigneur was defeated by 2 votes in the Senate. All SB200  had was a 5 year moratorium for expansion, until studies could be done to find the cause of the bubbling and for an Environmental Impact Statement.






The Advocate reports on it with some shameful lies by Patrick Courreges at DNR –


“. . . . Courreges said a variety of state and federal agencies are involved in the response, including EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy. He said they are working in a coordinated response and keeping people informed.

A community meeting, for example, is planned July 16 while websites are maintained with reports on the incident, legislative hearings have been held and the Office of Conservation has responded to more than 200 direct emails. . . . “

story – Honoré: Feds need to get more involved in sinkhole emergency

LINK –  http://youtu.be/A5RqVz0ljcg

LINK –  http://youtu.be/hJXy4Svc5gg

Some related PHOTOS by the videographer, Julie Dermansky. And a great article too. About Lake Peigneur

short link –  http://wp.me/p2GNDM-2SW

Oil & Gas Lobby Doing a Jig – Updated

La. oil, gas industry pleased with session

[snip] “. . . .  Mike Lyons, general counsel for the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, said his organization was pleased with the session’s results. Some bad[sic] bills were defeated, he said, citing one that would have limited the use of dispersants after oil spills. Another bill would have prohibited permits to create or convert salt dome caverns for storage, an overreaction to the Bayou Corne sinkhole situation, he said. It failed.

Thanks to Freedomrox for this tip – 😉

In Feb. Tulane Law School had their 18th Annual Summit on Environmental Law & Policy and they produced this report (in Power Point) on Bayou Corne. Attending were Wilma Subra, President of Subra Company, Technical Advisor for Louisiana Environmental Action Network; Stephen Horton, University of Memphis, Center for Earthquake Research and Information; Daniel E. Becnel, Jr., Attorney at Becnel Law Firm, L.L.C. in Reserva, LA..


T-I-M-B-E-Rrrrr! Wed. News

New Video! WWLTV Report

The Examiner – La. 13-acre ‘lake-like’ sinkhole well pad collapses

“The latest collapse swallowed about 25 more trees. Some trees destroyed in this disaster were over 100 years old.”

Louisiana Sinkhole Gobbling Up Land – Sinkhole in Bayou Corne keeps on growing and bubbling

“What’s alarming is that such an event has never happened anywhere in the world that anyone knows about. What’s even more startling is that no person, no government agency nor any company has any idea how to handle this environmental disaster.”

WAFB (the station with traffic chopper who can’t get a current image of the disaster minutes away from their studio) – Giant Louisiana sinkhole swallows 25 more trees

Claims JournalLouisiana Names Sinkhole Study Group as Tremors Recur

Op-Ed News – Bayou Corne Sinkhole Swallows 25 More Trees < has good before & after pictures

Opinion: Bayou Corne sinkhole is a long-term problem

Newish Texas Brine Situation Update – March 25. Page 2 – They are now requiring life preservers for workers. A good idea! Page 7 – They have a spotter for falling trees. T-I-M-B-E-Rrr!! And Freedomrox chimes in with this more informed view of the dire situation illuminated in the report –

As suspected, the berms are sinking. Below is the RESPEC report of events up to the 22nd.
“Water-level data indicate that an event occurred at March 17 around 3 a.m. Water levels at all three transducers dropped; IPI-2 and Rig Access Road water levels dropped immediately, while Pad-3 water levels required about 6 hours to fall the same amount. This may indicate that Pad-3 water levels are affected by the generally low water levels in the swamp, and therefore, take longer to stabilize. Later, on March 17 between about 9:15 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., water levels were affected by sloughing events on the west side of the sinkhole.”

Not salt dome related, but juicy – Bayou Buzz – Star Wars: Jindal vs. C.B. Forgotston, force of status-quo

LEAN – Bayou Corne Sinkhole Update March 2013 < with audio – interview with Wilma Subra

New Madrid Fault Worry:

[ 2011 event on Oklahoma ]

ENE-News – Powerful M5.7 quake blamed on oil industry — Felt across 14 states

Report: Big Okla. quake in 2011 likely man-made

2.5 quake Gallipolis, (South) Ohio < MAP

Thanks to reader, Kathy for quake news –  😉


Hydrocarbon chemicals from BP spill present in blood of residents – Blue Daze

There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of other Gulf Coast residents and former oil clean up workers that have also tested positive for having BP’s chemicals in their blood,” she added. “And for many of us, the problem seems to be getting worse with time.” – Wilma Subra