Sulphur mayor says no reason for alarm regarding salt dome emergency declaration

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 7:08 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 7:15 PM CDT
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SULPHUR, La. (KPLC) - Many in Southwest Louisiana are familiar with salt domes and their uses.

A salt dome is a geological formation underground that is often hollowed out through a process known as solution mining to make a cavern used for storage.

The case of the state’s emergency declaration concerns a salt cavern on the west side of the Sulphur Mines Dome in Calcasieu Parish.

Westlake Corporation officials operate the site and said they do not use the cavern for storage but to produce saltwater, which is used in the manufacture of chlorine. It’s piped to their South Plant on PPG Drive.

Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay has been briefed on the situation.

“I received a call from the Office of Conservation, and they told us they were going to issue the declaration and they did so that’s the only information we know at this point,” he said.

In this case, the cavern at issue was drilled in 1957 as a brine production cavern. From 1980 to 1993 the Department of Energy used it for crude oil storage, but now the Strategic Petroleum Reserves are located in Cameron Parish.

Danahay said at this point there does not seem to be any reason for alarm.

“Regarding the declaration, I understand there is no imminent danger taking place. They do have experts from the office of conservation and the proprietor of the cavern right now that have worked on this very problem for some time right now, so there’s a lot of data there. We’re just not privy to that data,” he said.

Danahay said since the emergency declaration there will be numerous agencies involved in monitoring the situation. He believes the state wants to get out ahead of the situation so they can move quickly if needed.