Second salt cavern near sinkhole raises concerns

BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - The latest news looks worse for the sinkhole in Assumption Parish.  Everyone involved is now eyeing a second cavern that may be too close to the Texas Brine salt dome well. But Texas Brine reps say no one should jump to any conclusion until seismic testing is complete.

"We need to complete the 3D seismic data collection and marry that image with the vertical seismic profiling data," said Texas Brine spokesperson Sonny Cranch.

It's called "Oxy Geismar 1". Based on some of the data from seismic testing, the cavern could be dangerously close, within 200 feet, of the salt dome wall - meaning potential trouble.

"This new information has posed the same concern that this cavern is close to the outer wall," said John Boudreaux, director of Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness.

Remember, it was the failure of that first cavern - "Oxy Geismar 3" - that scientists believe caused the now 8.5 acre sinkhole near Bayou Corne.

While Texas Brine and the parish wait for the final results of the seismic tests, Cranch says crews are working to finish installing a total of 33 vent wells and he says the first phase of the containment berm is complete.

"A impermeable, they call it a geomat, which will form a waterproof barrier on the inside of the containment berm," said Cranch. "We hope to have that work starting in the middle of next week or the week after."

Meanwhile, 350 people remain out of their homes under an evacuation order issued last August. Texas Brine has been paying the homeowners since August; but many now want a buyout.

On Saturday, California-based environmental activist Erin Brockovich will be in Bayou Corne. She and a team of lawyers, as well as an expert  who tests soil, will meet with residents affected by the sinkhole.

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