Group wants sinkhole declared federal disaster

Published: Jan. 7, 2013 at 4:48 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2013 at 11:04 PM CST
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Source: Assumption Parish
Source: Assumption Parish

BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - Tempers are boiling over in Assumption Parish five months after that sinkhole forced nearly 300 people out of their homes. Some people are desperate and want the federal government to intervene.

What exactly caused the sinkhole? How much longer will we have to be out of our homes? Questions Bayou Corne residents have been asking for five months now.

"I believe that the petition that we started , it really needs to get those signatures because I think that it's just beyond the resources the state government has at their disposal at this point," said Alicia Heilig, a resident.

The petition asks that the sinkhole and the land around it be declared a federal disaster area and that the feds come in to investigate.

"Five months into this sinkhole, and we're not any closer to any resolution than we were day one," said John Achee, whose family has owned a camp on the bayou for more than 30 years."I wish it was like you see on TV when you have the local cops, and the FBI comes in and tells everybody get out the way. That's what I'd like to see, federal government come in here...get all of these yo-yos out of the way and investigate this thing right."

But the state Department of Natural Resources say the feds are involved and have been since the sinkhole appeared.

"We've engaged the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, Sandia International Labs," said Interim DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz. "We welcome their input, and they continue to be involved in the process through our science team."

Chustz says each day this team of scientists is collecting new data but says things could be easier with more cooperation from Texas Brine.

"They failed to meet many of the deadlines that have been set and the commissioner's directives. And we believe that if they are unable to meet those deadlines, then they need to seriously consider buying these folks out who want to leave the Bayou Corne area because they fear for their safety," said Chustz.

So far, the petition has over 365 signatures, but needs a total of 25,000 before Feb. 4.

The petition was drawn up a day after Texas Brine, the owner of the failed salt dome believed to be the cause of the sinkhole, filed an injunction against the state of Louisiana. Click here for more

The company claims exploratory wells ordered by the Office of Conservation commissioner could cause more problems in the area.

Meanwhile, more rumbling was detected around the Bayou Corne site over the weekend.

However, experts said there is no need to worry. The tremors were connected with a 7.5 magnitude quake that struck off the coast of Alaska.

Experts said the quake was too far away to have any effect on the sinkhole.

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