Officials: Salt dome cavern failed, disagree with seismic claim

Published: Sep. 25, 2012 at 6:57 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2012 at 9:21 PM CDT
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Assumption Officials and DEQ returning with samples
Assumption Officials and DEQ returning with samples

BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - Assumption Parish officials said the Department of Natural Resources has confirmed Texas Brine Cavern No. 3 at the abandoned salt dome has failed.

They said the company's statement about, "some type of dense material has fallen to the bottom of the cavern," confirms the failure, which is what officials said they suspected had happened.

The parish disagrees with Texas Brine's preliminary conclusion the well was damaged by "regional-scale seismic activity" (earthquakes).

Officials said because it has been determined the cavern failed they will continue to look to the company for accountability and evacuee assistance.

A public meeting to give residents additional information is being coordinated. Once a meeting is set up, people will be notified.

Scientists with Texas Brine announced late Monday night they discovered large amounts of an unidentified material in the bottom of the abandoned salt dome in Assumption Parish.

While measuring the depth of the cavern, the tool bottomed out at around 4,000 feet, which is about 1,300 feet shallower than they believe the cavern should be.

According to a spokesman for Texas Brine, the dense material doesn't appear to be consistent with material normally found inside brine caverns. Samples have been taken to be analyzed.

Texas Brine also reported data from the US Geological Survey showed seismic activity occurring thousands of feet below the damaged cavern, concentrating in the area just days before the sinkhole formed.

The USGS recorded the largest earthquake in Louisiana's history near the sinkhole and cavern. A 4.2 magnitude quake shook the area back in 1930.

Mandatory evacuations will remain in place until officials can review the preliminary results of the sonar tests.

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