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Magnitude, distribution and impacts of accidental brine spills in the Louisiana Coastal Wetland Conservation Plan area

Magnitude, distribution and impacts of accidental brine spills in the Louisiana Coastal Wetland Conservation Plan area

AAPG Bulletin 83(8): 1347-1348

Accidental brine spills cause varying degrees of environmental damage in ecologically sensitive areas of coastal Louisiana. The magnitude and extent of such spills in the Louisiana Wetland Conservation Plan Boundary were evaluated from data obtained from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LADEQ), Office of Water Resources and from other sources. Data included location (parish, oil and gas field), spill quantity, and surrounding habitat. Saltwater disposal well volumes were also obtained from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation. Field investigations were conducted to assess ecological damages caused by brine spills in a variety of settings. These spills represented a diversity of habitats and spill quantities. Five hundred sixty-seven spills were reported to or discovered by the LADEQ between 1990 and the first half of 1998. Eighty percent of the spills were concentrated in eight parishes. St. Mary and Vermilion each had 14%, while Terrebonne, St. Martin, Plaquemines, Lafourche, Iberia, and Cameron had between 8% and 9% each. A map depicting the location and habitat types of saltwater disposal wells in the Wetland Conservation Plan Area is included. Fifty-nine percent of the spills resulted from flowline ruptures. Data regarding location, habitat types, volume of brine injected, and date of last inspection was provided to allow managers to focus resources on high risk sites in ecologically sensitive areas.

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