BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Three legislative committees gathered at the State Capitol to hear from affected parties regarding the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish Tuesday.
Representative Karen St. Germain, whose district includes the sinkhole, read four letters into the record from residents who have been displaced since August of last year.
Assumption Parish officials, followed by Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, along with CB&I and Texas-Brine will testified Monday morning.
Senator Gerald Long, who chairs Natural Resources, says his committee will initiate an investigation into the matter.
The main sinkhole has reached more than 800 feet in diameter and the western wall continues to collapse.
Last week, officials reported about 5,000 square feet fell in on the southwest side of the sinkhole, officials call this sloughing.
According to Texas-Brine, sloughing is considered a normal part of the stabilization process; the sinkhole surface area will get bigger but the depth will become shallower. In August 2012, the depth of the sinkhole was 490 feet. In January 2013, the depth was just over 200 feet.
Bruce Mathews, Vice President of Operation for Texas-Brine testified that the company will not start buying homes in the affected area because it's just not the right time. "I know there are residents of Bayou Corne that want to be bought out," says Mathews. "But I know there is a group that does not want to be bought out because there's one's who want to stay and because it's the right thing to do. We have to focus on response activities."
The words from Mathews were not what some residents wanted to hear.
Texas-Brine officials say they have spent $3.5 million on residents of Bayou Corne so far. That is about $23,000 per family. "My house sits there uninhabited for over four months, closed up with no air circulating," said resident Jamie Wilber. "My interior has mold, cracks in the roof and sheet rock. My home is destroyed and my children have no intention of going back.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon testified that residents who haven't had their home owners' policies for at least 3 years could be in danger. "For anybody less than 3 years, like any other homeowner in America, they can be non-renewed," said Donelon.
The committee's have decided to reconvene Monday March, 18 to review the progress. That's a few weeks before the session starts in April to consider legislation relevant to the sinkhole.
As has been reported numerous times previously, natural gas bubbling continues at isolated sites near the center and around the perimeter of the sinkhole.
Meanwhile, Texas-Brine continues work on a containment berm to surround the sinkhole.