Baton Rouge: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Stephen Chustz, Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh and GOSHEP Director Kevin Davis announced that they have finalized the membership of the Blue Ribbon Commission called for last week by Governor Bobby Jindal to provide science-based recommendations for public safety in the Bayou Corne area. Chustz said 13 members have been selected to serve on the Commission.
DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz said, “The Blue Ribbon Commission will help us build on the progress we’ve made to protect the Bayou Corne community and environment. Members of the Commission hail from all over the world, and we’ve brought together the best knowledge available to work on these safety recommendations. To ensure that the members share our sense of urgency, we’ve made sure that some of the expertise on the Commission comes from the scientists already working on the sinkhole and that one member is from the Bayou Corne area. The commission will meet in the first week of April – and we look forward to learning from their expertise so we can continue ensuring the safety of Bayou Corne,” Chustz said.
The Commission’s purpose is to ensure the long-term safety of Bayou Corne residents through development of specific criteria to measure progress in achieving safety goals. The three primary areas to be a addressed by the commission are the levels of shallow gas in the aquifer, the current and future stability on the western side of Napoleonville Salt Dome, and the management and containment of the sinkhole coupled with the determination of potential void spaces below the sinkhole.
To provide benchmarks for the recommendations, the commission will address at least two key factors, including appropriate conditions to determine sustained public safety and the data needed to assess those conditions. The commission will make recommendations on what the safety benchmarks should be and on when they have been sufficiently met.
“We appreciate Governor Jindal’s support in directing that this Commission be formed with some of the best minds available throughout the world, so they can give us real answers for our people on when those who want to return home can do so safely,” said Assumption Parish Police Jury President Marty Triche.
Chustz said that while some members were selected from the team already assisting in the state’s response, the search effort also went well beyond the borders of the state of Louisiana and the United States to find the best mix of national and international expertise and regional experience in areas of science applicable to the public safety concerns in Bayou Corne.
“The work of this Commission is crucial to the future of public safety in the Bayou Corne area,” Chustz said. “We must ensure we have done all that we can to get the right people to provide the right answers in making recommendations for the future of the people who want to return.”
The members named to the Commission are:
- Pierre Berest, Ph.D., Research Director at France’s Ecole Polytechnique, member of French Commission for Underground Storage Safety, former president of the Solution Mining Research Institute
- David Borns, Ph.D., Geotechnology and Engineering Program Manager for Sandia National Laboratories, research focused on subsurface monitoring for environmental applications, risk assessments and simulations
- J.C. Chamberlain, 12-year resident of Bayou Corne area, 30 years of industrial experience
- Randall Charbeneau, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research with University of Texas-Austin’s Center for Research in Water Resources, former member of Science Advisory Committee for EPA Underground Injection Control program, former chairman of review panel for EPA’s Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Laboratory Groundwater Modeling Research
- Doug Duncan, Associate Coordinator of U.S. Geological Survey Energy Resource Program, research focused geologically based energy resources and impacts to environmental and human health
- Blayne Hartman, Ph.D., Geochemist with Hartman Environmental Geoscience, contributor to regulatory guidance documents on vapor intrusion for EPA and several state agencies
- Gary Hecox, Ph.D., Senior Hydrogeologist and GIS Analyst with CB&I, technical lead for CB&I Bayou Corne response team
- James Linn, Ph.D., Geotechnical consultant, former president of Solution Mining Research Institute, former Underground Storage Technology Manager for Sandia National Laboratories
- Denis O'Carroll, Ph.D., Associate Professor for University of Western Ontario’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, research focused on groundwater contamination and remediation
- Will Pettitt, Ph.D., Vice President of Itasca Group, member of microseismic and geomechanics team in ongoing Bayou Corne response
- John Rogers Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor with LSU’s Craft & Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering, consulting engineer for federal Oil Spill Commission on events leading to 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident
- Thomas Van Biersel, Ph.D., Hydrogeologist with Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, former Assistant Professor with Louisiana Geological Survey at LSU, coordinator for Science Work Group advising Bayou Corne response
- John Voigt, Executive Director of Solution Mining Research Institute, President of Voigt Mining and Geotechnical, specializing in salt geology and brine/water inflow evaluation