Sunday, November 8, 2009

Part of Carlsbad, New Mexico subject to giant sinkhole because of drilling activity

Imagine driving down the road and seeing a bright yellow warning sign that states "US 285 south subject to sinkhole 1,000 feet ahead". Scary huh? This is happening right now in New Mexico.

Below are a few paragraphs from the msnbc article.

The cavern was formed over three decades as oil field service companies pumped fresh water into a salt layer more than 400 feet below the surface and extracted several million barrels of brine to help with drilling.

Over the past few decades, communities in Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Canada and Europe learned of similar underground danger only after cracks appeared and the ground began to sink.

"It would be a mess. It would be like a bomb going off in the middle of town," said Jim Griswold, a hydrologist with the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division.

Of course there is always the denial by those who profit from the industry.

I&W Trucking, the oil field service company that owns the site where the cavern is located, contends the state is overreacting because of the previous collapses on state land and criticized the Oil Conservation Division for not doing more tests to establish the size of the brine cavern before forcing it to plug the well.

Local and State officials are asking for federal funds to figure out a way to stabilize the cavern.
They are worried it might not happen in time. Carlsbad is home to around 26,000 residents and great deal of tourists. The area where the danger exists could result in $100 million in crop damage.

State officials said parts of the ground above the well are already heaving while other parts are sinking.

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