By Jay Colingham MPH, LABB Research Associate
Months after a large sinkhole opened up in Bayou Corne of Assumption Parish, the hole is still growing. Assumption Parish officials have noted a large bank collapsed last week and estimates on the area lost have grown. Texas Brine Co. has claimed that the estimates are grossly overestimated and that the land loss is much less than reported. Because Texas Brine Co. is responsible for the well and storage of chemicals in the sinkhole, they will be held liable for any fines or criminal responsibility that may have caused the collapse. Currently Texas Brine Co. is estimating 750 square feet of land was lost as opposed to Assumption Parish estimates of around 16,000 square feet.
When the sinkhole was discovered on August 3rd, 150 homes were evacuated. The parish and Department of Homeland Security have upheld that evacuation notice. Some residents have been told they may not be able to return home until early in 2013. While residents are being reimbursed for their expenses, many are stressed for money due to paying for two residences and having to repurchase personal belongings. Others who do not live in the evacuated zone, but are self-employed and work in the area are restricted and cannot work.
On November 4th, Texas Brine Co. announced that 30 pounds per square inch of natural gas was reaching the surface. While they claim that this is a “modest” amount, the presence of this comes to a shock for many residents who were told publicly that the salt cavern below ground would be used to store cooking oil for bio-diesel production. Contractors have now assembled and connected a flaring system to temporarily alleviate the gas pressure during the weekend. Contractors are planning to remove water from the well casing to increase the flow of natural gas and later assemble a more permanent flaring system.
The salt cavern that lies below the sinkhole in Bayou Corne had a wall breach and now contains natural gas, oil, chemicals, and roughly 3.3 million cubic yards of sediments. Scientists believe that the bottom void of the sinkhole that lead to the salt cavern has now been obstructed and filled in. The depth of the sinkhole is now approximately 170 feet but the volume has increased by 20% to 666,000 cubic yards.
Mitchell, David J. Company, parish disagree on size of sinkhole. The Advocate. November 2, 2012. http://theadvocate.com/news/4292694-123/company-parish-disagree-on-size
Mitchell, David J. Gas flowing from sinkhole. The Advocate. November 4, 2012. http://theadvocate.com/news/4309557-123/gas-flowing-from-sinkhole
The Advocate (River Parishes Division). More land and trees fall into Assumption sinkhole. November 1, 2012. http://theadvocate.com/news/4282059-123/more-land-and-trees-fall
Mitchell, David J. Tremor near sinkhole causes no damage. The Advocate. October 31, 2012. http://theadvocate.com/news/4272431-123/tremor-near-sinkhole-causes-no
Mitchell, David J. Experts face challenges with sinkhole gas. The Advocate. October 29, 2012. http://theadvocate.com/news/4262602-123/experts-face-challenges-in-sinkhole
Mitchell, David J. Company reports most of sinkhole crude collected. The Advocate. October 23, 2012. http://theadvocate.com/news/4216992-123/company-reports-most-of-sinkhole
Mitchell, David J. Officials: Math doesn’t work; end to evacuation is unclear. The Advocate. October 23, 2012. http://theadvocate.com/news/4209995-123/officials-sinkhole-math-doesnt-work