Texas Brine

Thu, 2014-05-08 14:38Julie Dermansky
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Bayou Corne Residents Still Evacuated Nearly Two Years After Salt Mine Collapse Caused Sinkhole

A sign on a Bayou Corne resident's lawn near the sinkhole

It’s been almost two years since a salt mine collapsed in Bayou Corne, 77 miles from New Orleans, causing a sinkhole to open up and natural gas to spread under nearby homes.

Since Aug. 3, 2013, a swath of Assumption Parish has remained under a state of mandatory evacuation.  

The area, known as a sportsman's paradise for its waterways rich in fish and alligators, has become a danger zone threatened by rising gas pressure. Only a few of its 350 residents remain after the collapse of the salt mine owned by Occidental Chemical Corp. and operated by Texas Brine Co. LLC.

“The situation in Bayou Corne remains dangerous,” John Boudreaux, the director of emergency preparedness for Assumption Parish, told DeSmogBlog.

It is his job to keep those who still live there safe.

“125 feet below us — where the aquifer is — there is a layer of gas that has to be removed. Until they can get it removed, the risk continues,” he said.

Thu, 2013-08-22 15:02Julie Dermansky
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Growing Louisiana Sinkhole Swallowing Trees, Blamed On Industrial Activity

New video filmed in Bayou Corne, Louisiana by the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness shows the latest “slough in” at an ongoing sinkhole sucking in whole treesThe toxic sinkhole was discovered by a resident on August 3rd, 2012. At that time, it was three acres but it's since grown to over 24 acres in size. According to OEP Director John Boudreaux, “The sinkhole continues to be active and grow.” 

Petrochemical company Texas Brine is being held responsible because a salt cavern they were drilling collapsed, causing the sinkhole. The state of Louisiana is suing Texas Brine for environmental damage. Citizens have either accepted buyouts or joined a class action lawsuit against the company. The area has been under mandatory evacuation since August 3. Many of the 350 residents evacuated, but others have stayed. Parish Police Jury President Marty Triche, who called for the evacuation, recently reminded citizens at a ceremony marking a year since the disaster started that the danger is very real.

The sinkhole caused gas to be released into the aquifer and spread underneath the town. The gas has the potential to fill a home undetected and explode. Those who have stayed have gas monitors in their homes. They are willing to risk the danger of staying because what they have isn't easy to replace. Bayou Corne has been described by many as a hidden paradise. But now there is constant construction, active flares and bubbling methane in the surrounding bayou. And when there's a “slough in,” as shown in the video, the rancid smell of hydrocarbons permeates the air.

Watch footage of the sinkhole swallowing trees whole, filmed by Assumption Parish:

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