Industry use of aquifers may lead to contamination

On behalf of Rock Palermo of Veron, Bice, Palermo & Wilson, LLC posted in Toxic Torts on May 22, 2014.

In light of requests by Helis Oil & Gas to drill through an aquifer in Southeast Louisiana, there have been a number of concerns expressed concerning the contamination of our drinking water. Despite claims by companies involved in fracking that no threat to drinking water exists, the EPA concluded back in 2011 that fluids used in the drilling likely led to pollution of an aquifer. This matter is still being investigated.

Unfortunately, fracking appears not to be the only threat. There is also concern about salt entering into the aquifer system as well. One aquifer system has seen more salt enter in due to the water needs of Baton Rouge. The water use is related to both industry and public demand. In East Baton Rouge Parish the water use has increased by 50 percent from 1960 to 2010.

Much of the water withdrawal comes about due to demand by paper producers. Chemical companies also use a significant amount of water as do petroleum refineries.

Caps have been placed upon industry use of the water, but these caps appear to be relatively high. Louisiana's Commissioner of Conservation has made recommendations that a plan be developed providing specific steps to prevent saltwater intrusion. While a bill was proposed by one Louisiana legislature that would limit industrial usage concerning the Baton Rouge aquifer, the bill never made it out of the committee. One water protection advocate stated: "Industry is too strong in the legislature."

Industries make claims that they will take steps to protect our groundwater. However, we do need checks concerning the scope of activities by these industries. Water pollution is a significant concern for property owners because it involves the very water that they drink. These individuals may wish to speak to experienced environmental attorneys to make certain that their interests are represented and heard.

Source: Huffington Post, "Threats to the Southern Hills Aquifer System Grow in Louisiana," Susan Buchanan, May 19, 2014

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