Giant Sinkhole Threatens Neighborhood: Residents in Bayou Corne, Louisiana Evacuated

By iScienceTimes Staff on March 21, 2013 2:49 PM EDT

Louisiana sinkhole
A giant sinkhole threatens a neighborhood in Louisiana after a salt cavern collapsed last year. Sinkholes, like the one pictured here in Oregon, are most often caused by erosion. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A giant sinkhole threatens a neighborhood in Louisiana after a salt mine collapsed in August of last year. The giant sinkhole in Bayou Corne is now 12 acres in size, according to KSLA-12, and isn't done growing yet. Residents threatened by the giant sinkhole were evacuated last year and still can't return to their homes.

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The giant sinkhole that collapsed last year has created a number of problems for the Bayou Corne neighborhood, including tremors, oil leaks and gas leaks. Regulators say they have never seen anything like it.  

In June 2012, government officials investigated an incident of unexplained bubbling coming out of a swamp in Bayou Corne. The enigmatic bubbling went unsolved for some time, until the area collapsed and authorities discovered it was an abandoned salt cavern that had shifted rock and salt formations below, causing crude oil and natural gas to bubble up to the surface before the whole thing caved in on itself.

Scientists monitoring the area say a second collapse may be on its way. Earlier this week, the swamp "burped", causing another section to cave into the sink hole. A "burp" caused more of the swamp to collapse. The Examiner reported that officials said on Sunday: "The Office of Conservation is advising the public that a large 'burp' event was recorded at the sinkhole shortly after 3 a.m on the morning of Sunday, March 17."

Texas Brine, a Houston-based mining company, has been mining salt in Bayou Corne for more than four decades, NPR reported. The state has asked that Texas Brine drill 30 more of these natural gas wells around Bayou Corne. The company is currently paying evacuated residents in Bayou Corne $875 a week to cover temporary housing costs, according to NPR.

One resident calls "hush-hush" money.

On Tuesday, the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, visited Bayou Corne to see the sinkhole that threatens the neighborhood. In a press conference, the governor called on Texas Brine to make an offer to residents who would like a buyout option, as the area is still deemed too hazardous to live in and residents are getting restless. He also called for more venting wells in the area.

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