Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Salt cavern plan for natural gas storage is cancelled

El Paso Natural Gas is canceling plans to create caverns in underground salt deposits near Eloy in Pinal County to store natural gas to meet peak demands from Phoenix and Tucson.

The company blamed the falling economy and state regulations that prevent them from disposing of the dissolved salt brine in deep saline aquifers, even if the injected water is fresher than the aquifer brine. That makes the cost of creating the salt caverns prohibitively expensive. [right, diagram of a salt cavern used in waste storage. Credit, Salt Cavern Information Center]

Ironically, the state House is holding a hearing in the morning on House Bill 2352, which would exempt natural gas storage wells from state aquifer protection permit requirements but would keep them subject to EPA rules under the safe drinking water act. Under EPA rules, the wells could inject the solution mining waters into saline aquifers.

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