Louisiana news briefs
LSU to study environmental monitoring of Gulf
BATON ROUGE (AP) — The vast array of water-monitoring systems in the Gulf of Mexico have some worth to federal agencies that use the data to produce things such as weather forecasts and to businesses that use the information gathered by those systems.
Figuring out the worth of the monitoring systems is the focus of a three-year, $750,000 project led by the LSU Agricultural Center and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
There’s this massive array of data collected out there,” said Rich Kazmierczak, professor of resource economics with LSU Agricultural Center, and one of the researchers working on the project
The first phase will involve interviewing key members of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System to determine who uses the information and what value they put on the information.
The Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System is a quasi-governmental group that receives funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is governed by a regional board that includes representatives from private businesses, governmental agencies and universities.
Audit finds overcharging
at Lafayette hospital
LAFAYETTE (AP) — State auditors have determined that the former University Medical Center in Lafayette overcharged patients by nearly $395,000 and misappropriated medications last year.
In its response, hospital officials have vowed to set up better controls and monitoring systems, and to refund any funds that were not due to the hospital.
The hospital was under the direction of the LSU Health Care Services division during the audit period.
In a management response, LSU Health Care Services officials said the errors were mostly caused by a misunderstanding among UMC pharmacists, causing some chemotherapy medications to be billed twice.
Coastal plan targets Southwest La. projects
BATON ROUGE (AP) — A federal report on coastal protection and restoration in southwest Louisiana calls for $1.7 billion in projects, a plan that state officials say is an encouraging start but far short of what is needed.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s released a draft report of the plan this month outlining recommended projects in Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parishes.
The plan, which has no funding and is still subject to change, calls for spending $388 million to elevate, flood-proof and move buildings in coastal southwest Louisiana.
It also recommends $1.3 billion in restoration work, including projects for marsh creation, oyster reef preservation, shoreline protection and reforestation.
for ex-cop in body burning
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge has postponed a resentencing hearing for a former New Orleans police officer convicted of burning the body of a man who was fatally shot by another officer in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Gregory McRae was scheduled to be resentenced on Jan. 9. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Lance Africk agreed to delay the hearing until March 13.
In a court filing last week, McRae’s attorney argued the former officer shouldn’t be resentenced until Africk rules on his request for a new trial.
Africk sentenced McRae to more than 17 years in prison after his conviction on charges stemming from the burning of 31-year-old Henry Glover’s body.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld McRae’s conviction but ordered Africk to resentence him.
2 trains collide in Keithville
KEITHVILLE (AP) — Caddo Parish sheriff’s deputies say two trains collided south of Shreveport, derailing several cars and injuring four crew members.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick says crewman James R. Reedmond was in stable condition at University Hospital and three other men suffered minor injuries. She says Reedmond’s injury is not life threatening.
Chadwick says a southbound Union Pacific train on the main track was diverted onto a side track about 6:40 a.m. Monday and ran into a parked coal train owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
Chadwick says several empty coal cars derailed. One Union Pacific container car broke. Chadwick says it held polyurethane insulation pellets, which are non-toxic.
The intersection of Old Mansfield Road and Keithville-Springridge Road reopened Monday afternoon after crews cleaned up the wreckage.
Texas Brine draws up new sinkhole containment plans
BAYOU CORNE (AP) — Records show that Texas Brine Co. has developed a backup plan to replace the cracked southern section of a protective levee surrounding the sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish and may look to reroute Bayou Corne if conditions deteriorate further.
The company’s new draft plan proposes “triggers” that would prompt the levee replacement. It also outlines an alternative of rerouting Bayou Corne if a replacement levee proves too unstable to maintain due to sinking of the remaining land between the sinkhole and the bayou.
Company officials and regulators say it is unlikely there would be a need to reroute the bayou based on current projections for the sinkhole’s expansion but need to be prepared.
Bayou Corne runs just south of the levee’s southern segment and forms half of a semi-circular arc of waterways south of La. 70. Bayou Corne ultimately joins Grand Bayou, which flows south to Lake Verret.
The sinkhole was dormant for weeks this fall, but has rumbled back to life twice since late October. Spikes in “micro-earthquakes” have resulted in cracks and sinking in a section of the levee’s southern arm.
As the 26-acre, lakelike hole has edged toward the southern levee and the bayou beyond, Texas Brine had been under growing pressure from regulators, parish government officials and the remaining residents in the Bayou Corne community to lay out contingency plans in the event the sinkhole expands farther to the south.
Scientists think the breach of an underground salt dome cavern operated by Texas Brine last year unleashed percolating methane gas from natural deposits and caused the sinkhole to emerge between the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities probably on Aug. 3, 2012.
From The Associated Press.