BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - Assumption Parish officials say some residents forced to evacuate their homes because of the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Bayou Corne are now able to come back if they want.
The area west of Grand Bayou, along Highway 70 was part of the mandatory evacuation area after the sinkhole opened up.
Officials say they no longer believe there is a risk from gas in that specific area. DEQ says there has never been any gas detected in the area since the sinkhole opened.
August 3, 2015 marked the three years since the formation of the sinkhole. It is now roughly 7,000 times larger than it was when it first opened up. The original size of the sinkhole was about 200 square feet. It now spans 32.5 acres. To put it into perspective, one acre is 43,560 square feet. However, officials say the sinkhole has not grown in more than a year.
"In the last survey of the sinkhole, it showed an acre and a half increase in the sinkhole, but that had been six months since the last sinkhole survey was done," John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness added during an August 2015 interview.
"Air monitoring does continue 24 hours a day to indicate if there's any gas levels that are to a level for ignition. We have other equipment that we look at, whether it's seismic, water levels and so forth. We look at that throughout the site to see what we're working with," Boudreaux explained.
History of the Sinkhole
The sinkhole opened up in August 2012 and was roughly 200 square feet. The sinkhole, which is now 32.5 acres, formed when an underground salt cavern was breached.
In the past, seismic activity is reported, then the sinkhole would burp up debris and then a slough-in happened. 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.
The oily substance and debris that came to the surface was removed when the sinkhole opened up.
Berms were placed around the sinkhole as an extra precaution to protect the surrounding bayous and swampland from the waters in the sinkhole.
Hundreds living near the giant sinkhole were forced from their homes and about 15 residents chose to stay in the area.
Residents who were evacuated and the most affected residents began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week. The residents received checks until their property was acquired.
Texas Brine owns the salt cavern that breached, causing the sinkhole.
On August 2, 2013, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced the state is suing Texas Brine for environmental damages caused by the failed Texas Brine cavern.
Residents had the choice to either receive the weekly checks or be a part of the class-action lawsuit.