STEVEN K. LANDRY
THE DAILY IBERIAN
Sat, 13 Jan 2007 13:31 CST
But that’s not stopping Lake Peigneur residents from questioning why the “bubbling” intermittently rising to the surface of the lake since Christmas 2005 is seemingly happening more often. Several people said they saw what looked like the bubbling again about 7 a.m. Thursday. But by the time anyone takes the quarter-mike boat ride, all that’s left is a frothy foam, hundreds of feet long that remains for a couple of hours.
It’s odd, residents said.
The lake, at the Iberia Parish-Vermilion Parish border, is the site of two salt-dome gas storage wells owned by AGL Resources of Atlanta. It wants to build two more, but the state is stopping construction because of late payments on a lease. AGL has sued the state, requesting the courts intervene to allow construction to resume.
AGL officials maintain it’s not their facility or the company’s under-the-surface piping operations causing the froth. AGL and Dinah Boudreaux, a resident who has seen it, are bringing samples of the froth to separate labs for testing neither could provide which labs before deadline today.
The state Department of Natural Resources officials at the site Thursday said they have not seen the bubbling.
But Boudreaux said Thursday’s foam was “lasting much longer than it ever has.”
AGL operations supervisor Jason Mire said residents alerted the company to the alleged bubbling about 7 a.m. Thursday. Mire said the company went to the site to get samples.
But still no bubbling, no photos of it, just in eyewitness accounts. No one doubts the accounts, but it rankles Lake Peigneur resident Nara Crowley, who also has not seen the bubbles. She does have the post-bubbles froth on film.
“I’ve never seen the bubbles. I’m not saying it doesn’t bubble, but I’ve never seen it,” Mire said. “I’ve been here since the plant opened 12 years ago.”
As for the petroleum smell, he hasn’t noticed that.
“I grabbed it (foam) in my hands and there’s no feeling to it. No smell, no residue, no texture,” he said. “I worked offshore for years and when a crewboat would pass and would churn up that salt water, it makes that foam. That’s what it looks like to me.”
The bubbling and subsequent foaming are probably not caused by a leak from AGL’s operations, Mire said.
“If it would be some kind of leak, it would be constant,” Mire said. “We monitor our pressure constantly, 24 hours a day. And we would lose pressure if it was a leak. But ... we want to do everything we can to find out what’s causing it.”
Mike Richard Jr., horticulturist at Live Oak Gardens, drove to the southeast side of the lake Thursday to point out the foam.
“Yes,” he said. “I’ve seen it (bubbling). One time you could actually see it rolling, like a boil. I had some high-power binoculars. I saw it from here. It might be from an old well. They had 60, 70 wells out here, but they capped all of the old ones. I’ve lived here all my life, and I’ve never seen these bubbles before.”
Richard said it could be pressure fluctuations in the gas storage that’s pushing something up.
Wilma Subra, New Iberia-based chemist and environmentalist, said it is probably some kind of gas bubbling to the surface, but that it could be “a number of things from a number of different sources.”
Scott Lahasky, who lives on the west end of the lake, said he saw the bubbling Thursday.
“Is it something recurring that’s causing damage to the land around it? And who do we contact to take a look?,” Lahasky said. “You don’t see it every day.”