BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - The Assumption Parish Police Jury said one part of the evacuation area near the giant Louisiana sinkhole has been re-designated from mandatory to voluntary.
Officials reported the area to the east of Grand Bayou along LA 70 that was part of the mandatory evacuation order has been changed to a voluntary evacuation area.
They added it is believed all of the gas has been removed from the area. They will continued to investigate and monitor the area to confirm that the gas is depleted.
Once that happens, that particular section will no longer be an evacuation area.
A full mandatory evacuation order remains in place for the Bayou Corne community.
History of the Sinkhole
The sinkhole opened up in August 2012 and was roughly 1/24 of the size it is now. The sinkhole formed when an underground salt cavern collapsed.
In the past, seismic activity is reported, then the sinkhole burps up debris and then a slough-in happens. Burps occur when air and gas from deep in the sinkhole bubbles up. It can cause debris and an oily substance to float to the top. A slough-in is when the sinkhole swallows trees and land that is on the edge of the sinkhole.
Berms were placed around the sinkhole shortly after it opened up to keep the oily, debris filled water contained to the sinkhole area so it would not contaminate the area bayous.
It has more than a year since hundreds living near the giant sinkhole were forced from their homes.
Bubbles were spotted in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou in June 2012. Two months later, the ground opened up and left what is now a 29-acre sinkhole. Residents were evacuated and the most affected residents began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week. Texas Brine owns the salt cavern that collapsed, causing the sinkhole.
On August 2, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced the state will be suing Texas Brine for environmental damages caused by the failed Texas Brine cavern.
Parish and Texas Brine officials agree the situation is far from over. 3D seismic surveys show the sinkhole itself it beginning to slow and stabilize, but the recovery is focused on another danger; natural gas gathering underneath a nearby aquifer.