Baton Rouge: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Stephen Chustz announced that the first meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou Public Safety will be held on Friday, April 5.
The first meeting, which is open to members of the public who wish to attend and observe, is set for 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the LSU Energy, Coast and Environment Building in the Woods Auditorium. The initial meeting is to introduce members to the situation as it stands in the Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou area and provide them further detail on the Commission’s purpose.
Gov. Bobby Jindal called for creation of the Commission to assist in the effort 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 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.
“In this first meeting, we will be making sure that the scientists we have gathered from across the country and other countries have the information they need to understand the technical issues, the concerns of the public and local officials, and the importance of their task,” Chustz said. “We will make certain that the Commission understands both the sense of urgency and the need to make certain that the standards that are set are appropriate for a safe return to the community for those who wish to do so.”
In order to expedite the technical work of the Commission, the initial meeting will focus primarily on technical understanding of the situation, and Commission members will not be able to field public comments in a question-and-answer format, but members of the public will be allowed to submit comments or concerns, which will be forwarded to all members for consideration.
While some Commission members will be attending the initial meeting in person, others will be participating through teleconference, due to prior commitments and the widespread locations of the members.
“We wanted to move as quickly as possible to bring the Commission members up to speed and get them working. In seeking out the best scientists to form the Commission, we understood we would be getting people who were already in high demand, so we are working within their availability to ensure the process moves as efficiently as possible,” Chustz said.