ABBEVILLE — The Vermilion Parish School Board unanimously passed a resolution Thursday opposing AGL expanding its natural gas storage facility at Lake Peigneur.
Expansion plans call for the underground natural gas storage facility to be expanded from two caverns to four, increasing the storage capacity from 9.4 billion cubic feet of gas to 21.4 billion.
AGL applied for a permit to begin the process in June with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, and the plans are still under review.
Opposition to the project stems from the company having to use up to 3 million gallons of aquifer water a day to dissolve salt underground to create a void to store the gas over a period of about 4 years to complete the $2 million project.
Addressing the board, Stephen Langlinais, of Save Lake Peigneur, said one problem with the project was the company looking to run two large pumps close together.
This would cause the level of the Chicot Aquifer, from which local communities draw drinking water, to drop considerably, allowing saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico.
He said the amount of water they would pump annually would equal the volume used by about 36 farm irrigation wells.
Pointing to U.S. Geological Survey data showing how other communities under the aquifer subsided 3 or more feet while drinking water levels dropped up to 100 feet because of high pumping, Langlinais said water usage from the aquifer had to slow across south Louisiana.
“If AGL pumps 5 million gallons a day, we are worried the same thing could happen here,” he said. “Drinking wells are already showing signs of increased salinity. This is an invisible cancer that is occurring.”
Langlinais also expressed concerns AGL plans to pump salty brine 6,000 feet underground, which would permanently remove millions of gallons of water from the natural water cycle.
When board member Tony Fontana asked why the company would not consider using water from the nearby Delcambre Canal or the lake, Langlinais said it was too expensive.
The board then passed the resolution opposing the expansion and agreed to send it to all public bodies in the Acadiana area as well as the state delegation and the Louisiana Department of Resources.