NM Seeks Reimbursement From Mining Company

New Mexico – The state of New Mexico has spent more than a half-million dollars investigating and monitoring a giant cavern in southeastern New Mexico, and now it wants the company responsible for the property to pay up.

State officials say the extraction of millions of barrels of brine from a salt layer deep underground has resulted in the cavern in Carlsbad.

The state Oil Conservation Division is monitoring the site, hoping to detect the earliest signs of a cave-in that could possibly take with it part of a highway, a church, a trailer park and an irrigation canal.

The agency has sent a letter to I&W Inc., demanding reimbursement of $563,420, as well as a plan for assuming responsibility for the now-shuttered brine well operation.

I&W did not return calls seeking comment.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.