Louisiana Sinkhole: Trees Swallowed In Seconds As 24-Acre Sinkhole Expands [VIDEO]

By Josh Lieberman on August 22, 2013 12:12 PM EDT

louisiana sinkhole
The Louisiana sinkhole of Bayou Corne has grown to the size of 21 football fields. A new video shows trees "sloughing in" along the sinkhole perimeter. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

In a mesmerizing new video of the year-old Louisiana sinkhole, scores of 40-foot trees are shown falling down as the ground below them gives way. The video (below) shows the collapse, or "slough in," of the edge of the Louisiana sinkhole, which has grown to over 24 acres. The estimated depth of the sinkhole is 750 feet.

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The sinkhole has devastated the community of Bayou Courne, in what The Atlantic has called "the biggest ongoing industrial disaster in the United States you haven't heard of." The cause of the sinkhole is believed to be overzealous drilling of an underground salt dome by Texas Brine, who were extracting brine for use in petrochemical refining. When a wall of the salt dome collapsed, the theory goes, the sinkhole emerged, swallowing not only swaths of land but also releasing explosive gases under homes in the area.

"When you keep drilling over and over and over again, whether it's into bedrock or into salt caverns, at some point you have fractured the integrity of this underground structure enough that something is in danger of collapsing," ecologist Sandra Steingraber told The Atlantic. "It's an inherently dangerous situation."

About 350 people in the area have been told to evacuate, an order which only some have followed. Texas Brine has presented 92 settlement offers to residents of Bayou Corne, 62 of which have been accepted. Some of the residents who received the offers were less than thrilled with the prospect of leaving, and with the amount offered.

"I am not surrendering by any means," said Shelly Hernandez, a Bayou Corne property owner. "I may be torn tattered worn. I am not surrendering. It may bring me to my grave, but I'm not."

The amount offered by Texas Brine, according to Hernandez, was not enough to allow here to buy a home elsewhere.

"There is no more hope," she said. "I have lost all trust."

Hernandez and other Bayou Corne residents may now have reason to hope, though. On August 2, 2013, almost exactly one year after the Louisiana sinkhole emerged, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal announced that the state is suing Texas Brine, along with property owner Occidental Chemical Company, for the damage caused by the salt dome collapse.

"By filing suit, we are staying committed to holding Texas Brine accountable for the damage they've caused to Bayou Corne and to Louisiana," said Jindal. "We have already pushed for buyouts for affected residents and are undertaking a thorough review of all of Texas Brine's permits in our state. This suit is just the next step in making sure Texas Brine does the right thing and properly addresses the mess it's caused."

READ MORE:

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Toledo Sinkhole: Pamela Knox's Car Swallowed Into Giant Hole [VIDEO]

Kansas Sinkhole 200 Feet And Growing: Why Do Sinkholes Form? [VIDEOS]

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