Depressurization of a leaking salt cavern gas storage cavern in Eminence, MS, was expected to continue through the weekend, said a spokesman for Williams, owner of the seven-cavern facility.

Venting began at about 3 p.m. CST last Tuesday (see Daily GPI, Dec. 30, 2010). "We're still venting gas to the atmosphere," said spokesman Christ Stockton. "The natural gas vented into the atmosphere will dissipate into the air and does not pose a health hazard to neighbors. Representatives from the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health are monitoring air quality in the area and have not discovered any adverse readings."

Williams had removed about 600 MMcf from the cavern as of late Thursday morning. The venting flow rate has been about 225 MMcf/d.

Evacuated residents have been allowed to temporarily return to their homes to gather belongings, Williams said.

"Representatives from the National Weather Service are on the scene as well. We anticipate that approaching severe weather will likely force us to cease venting until weather conditions improve," the company said.

Williams said the leak was discovered Monday night (Dec. 27) after a drop in pressure was seen in one of the storage caverns at the Eminence facility. The cause of the leak was unknown, according to Williams, which said the gas was leaking into a water well on its property.

The storage facility is connected to Williams' Transco pipeline. Pipeline operations have not been affected.

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