Mining is an economic practice that has led to economic success of some countries. Others have treasured mining since it is the best way of obtaining rare resources. Mining is a task that involves massive investment of capital besides being a risky venture. Disasters can occur naturally or result from human error. Jefferson Island Salt Mine experienced an unforgettable disaster when Lake Peigneur in 1980 collapsed. Several companies had established mine while others were drilling when the event occurred.
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This report will state and describe what happened in Lake Peigneur in 1980. It will give eye witness reports of the disaster. It will also give different theories of what happened in the mine that fateful day. Then the report will give an opinion of what happened and why it happened. This report will state the ethical theory and laws made to ensure that it does not occur again.
Stating what happened in Lake Peigneur 1980
Lake Peigneur was a fresh water lake that was hit by a disaster that led to drastic changes in the compositions of the lake. In accordance with Wilson Brothers Corporation (2006, p. 1) a salt mining company came close to the third level of Diamond Crystal Salt Mine Company which had been mining in the lake. The men working in the mine noticed abnormality of the mines and noticed that the ground was becoming unsteady.
They were drilling under the lake in search of oil. They argue that it is human error that led to the disaster which followed after the men drilling accidentally made a mistake while drilling. The mistake is believed to have emanated in the position of the drill. On the other hand the blame is shifted to the accuracy of the maps used. It is argued that the maps may have been faulty and determining the positions using the inaccurate maps led to miscalculations.
While performing their duties the employees noticed that something had gone wrong and all of them evacuated the mining site soonest possible. One of the employees had noticed that water rising in his feet and he notified the other. The employees had performed an evacuation drill in less than a week and so they were aware of what to do. From a distance, they watched the event happen.
The drilling platform sunk very deep close to 50m high. The nearby trees, terrains and barges were all swallowed in by the lake. The mine was enormous and it absorbed water and turned into a temporary inlet. This was as a result of a hole that was formed during the drilling. The hole enlarged as more contents of water and other objects that were surrounding were swallowed in the lake. All the employees escaped in time and no lives were lost in the accident. This is because they were alerted in time and had already practiced how to respond in case of an emergency.
The salt used by the Diamond crystal salt mine company to distinguish one level form another were also absorbed. This led to the collapse of the mine. Observers say that the lake level sunk so deep and that the surrounding activities were also distracted. This was due to the fast moving water entering the mine and the noises caused by the geysers.
Another observation form the disaster was the geysers that followed after. They erupted from the mine as a result of compressed air that had occupied the mining canals erupted. More so the depth of the lake increased from the disaster in Jefferson Island (Loa Apos.com 2007, p. 1).
Other water bodies like the Delcabre Canal and Vermillion Bay were also affected. The flow of water was reversed as the water was filling in Lake Peigneur. The water from these water bodies was salty hence this contributed to the lake becoming salty. Experts believe that the water became salty as a result of the water that entered from the two water bodies. They reject the idea that the salt mine caused the lake to be salty.
It is important to note that the actual mistake that happened can hardly be pin pointed because the lakes state after the disaster could not allow for investigations that would bear fruit. This is because the evidence was swept away when the lake sunk to form a spectacular water fall longer than those in Lousiana. The causes could either be that the employees drilling the mine miscalculated or the maps that they used were faulty. As mentioned the evidence cannot be obtained.
Lake Peigneur was closed in 1986. Then the location was rehabilitated and used for storage of natural gas. The residents have made complains concerning their safety. Also they have raised concerns about bubbling that is heard from the lake from time to time.
The reason for opposing any activities in the lake is to avoid another disaster. They argue that drilling again in the near the lake may lead to more harm to the ecosystem. This was after the drilling men of the Texas Company together with the Wilson brothers settled the matter outside court. They compensated the damage done to the Diamond Crystal Salt Mine Company before closing down.
Eye witness information
The employees and a fisherman witnessed the disaster begin. The employees had been working in the evening and others were to begin their shift in the morning. Those who had been drilling in the night were the people who were the first to notice that they were drilling the salt mine. They waited for the men in the morning shift and work continued. The drill had been stuck more than a thousand feet below. Attempts to drill slowly free the drill they heard loud popping sound and the rig tilted in the direction of water.
Close to ten miners were at the mine where the hole was drilled. After the alarm they used the steel cage to run for their safety. Another group of forty performing their duties in the forth level were could not use the third level which was filled with water. They used carts and motor vehicles to get to the level where they could use the elevator to go to the surface. They all survived.
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A fisherman together with his nephew saw the water drains drastically while they were fishing at the lake. The boat he was using became stuck in the mud after water was drained. They walked through the mud and made their way out, before the eruptions began. A woman was also injured during the disaster while running away. She sustained bruises and injured her back.
After the disaster, the washed away gardens were rebuilt. This was after the pressure of the stabilized. The grounds were leveled and activities around the lake continued. Later on the lake was found to be deeper and the ecosystem had been affected. The levels of salt and nutrients had to be regulated to support the lakes ecosystem.
Different theories of the event
Since the evidence was swept away in the lake, different views concerning what transpired emerged. As already noted, men working for the Texco Company were drilling close to the edge of the third level. The levels were done using the salts and they should have been aware of the level since they had been working in the site. The men then drilled through the third level although they knew that the salt dome edge meant that there was a salt mine.
The argument is that they were not aware of the exact place that the mine location was and so they drilled unknowingly. They ended up drilling the actual location of the salt. When they noticed what had happened they attempted to conduct the Diamond Crystal Salt Mine Company. The communication failed hence the disaster was inevitable.
On the other hand some people believe that the map used was not correct. The experts who were drilling had followed map correctly. The drilling was based on the information that the map provided and that they believed what the map showed was the correct position for drilling. This theory blames the map the drilling team used (Loa Apos.com 2007, p. 1).
Opinion of what happened and why it happened that way
The drilling of the mines was done by professionals who had been trained. It is likely that the team noticed that they could be drilling the mine in the third level. The miner saw that they were drilling near the third level and should have considered making consultations before going on. What happened is that the miners ignored the signs that might drill into a mine and continued. The accident could have been prevented if the miners were keen.
Ethical theory and laws made to ensure that it does not occur again
The miners should conduct mining in such a way that they are safe and ensure that there is safety to the environment and the people living close to it. They should also note that the activities may have impact to the environment and take measures that ensure that the ecosystem and climate are not affected. More so, mining could be an important channel for generating revenue hence they should enable mining to be sustainable. Therefore those who engage in mining should uphold good practice in mining.
FTN Associates Ltd (2002, p. I) conducted a study that would lead to the formulation and implementation of a water act. Based on the water act that requires water bodies to follow standards set on the quality of water all as well as maximum amount of pollution of the water body, Lake Peigneur was found to be neglecting the act. It was also argued that the nutrients and other minerals in the water were not balanced and that animals and people using the water were endangered.
The neighboring community in Lousiana has noticed the laxity of implementation of laws. They have protested against possible mining activities form miners from beginning the exercise again. They have also rejected the idea of making the storage natural gas in the lake. Their efforts have not succeeded and there is natural gas storage in the lake. For this reason they fear that miners might begin their mining activities once more.
Suggestions on what should be in place of laws
The disaster led to many loses among them the destruction of a fresh water lake. It also resulted in to loss of property of the companies that established mines and the surrounding environment which had to stop business for a long time. If there was a law that guided the process of drilling other mines the human error problem would have been prevented.
The natural resources should not be entirely left in the hands of economist. Other stakeholders such as neighboring communities, the government and the environmental regulatory bodies both national and international should be involved. Policies that will allow preservation of the natural resources should be encouraged. Moreover, companies that are mining within the same location should be in good communication so as to avoid manmade disasters like Lake Peigneur 1980 disaster.
What can be done to prevent it from happening again?
It is possible to prevent catastrophes. Laws concerning the activities that take place in gelatins natural environment may be formulated and followed strictly. The standards and regulations that are also given can be applied strictly to avoid harming the ecosystem. Furthermore, the miners must include the expert as well as the authorities.
When working close to other mines like in the case in Lake Peigneur, companies can communicate and be present when others are making own mines close to other mines. This way a person who knows the exact location of the mine would help those mining close to the other mine by showing them the actual place. In case something goes wrong, like damage of the other mine, it is possible to conduct the other company fastest possible to deal problem.
The Lake Peigneur 1980 disaster was an irreversible phenomenon that could have been prevented. The disaster turned a fresh water lake into a salty water lake. The miners drilling accidentally made a mistake that led to the sinking of the lake into a deep lake.
The sinking of the lake affected other water bodies that redirected its water temporarily. The destruction was enormous and the companies took their grievances to court. There were no deaths and eye witnesses say that the water was draining quickly, there was noise and there were damages.
The cause of the accident cannot be determined due to lack of evidence argue that the minors drilled into the third level knowing that a mine was close. On the other hand another theory argues that the map that was used was faulty. The miners would have prevented the accident from occurring since they were aware that they were on the third level and the mine was close.
Laws to manage the waters of Lake Peigneur have been made to save the ecosystem. Lake Peigneur remains a deeper lake than before. Communities that surround it have opposed the rehabilitation of the mine. They believe that if laws are not articulated the lake might be made a mine again. They do not support the natural gas storage that is done in the lake.
FTN Associates Ltd. (2002). Lake Peigneur Tmdls for Dissolved Oxygen And Nutrients. Retrieved from <https://www.epa.gov/>
Loa Apos.com. (2007). Lake Peigneur, the biggest man-made vortex ever. Retrieved from <http://www.losapos.com/lakepeigneur>
Wilson Brothers Corporation. (2006). Lake Peigneur. Web.