Erin Brockovich to meet with people affected by Louisiana sinkhole

Published: Mar. 5, 2013 at 3:50 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2013 at 6:50 PM CST
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Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich
Aerial image February 20, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP)
Aerial image February 20, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP)

BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - Victims of the massive sinkhole in southeast Louisiana have grabbed the attention nationally known environmental activist Erin Brockovich.

Los Angeles attorney Thomas Girardi said he will be visiting the sinkhole site in Bayou Corne with Brockovich. He confirmed he is currently representing 18 Assumption Parish residents, but a community spokesman expects more people to meet with the team Saturday.

Residents are invited to the American Legion Hall in Pierre Part from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. to meet privately with Brockovich and Girardi.

Girardi added he is bringing an expert from Los Angeles to test soil at the site.

The main sinkhole has reached more than 800 feet in diameter and the western wall continues to collapse.

According to Texas-Brine, sloughing is considered a normal part of the stabilization process; the sinkhole surface area will get bigger but the depth will become shallower. In August 2012, the depth of the sinkhole was 490 feet. In January 2013, the depth was just over 200 feet.

About 150 homes have been under an evacuation order since Aug. 3, 2012; about two months after mysterious bubbles were discovered in the nearby Bayou Corne.

Bruce Martin, Vice President of Operation for Texas-Brine testified at a legislative hearing on February 19, 2013 that the company will not start buying homes in the affected area because it's just not the right time. "I know there are residents of Bayou Corne that want to be bought out," says Mathews. "But I know there is a group that does not want to be bought out because there's one's who want to stay and because it's the right thing to do. We have to focus on response activities."

The words from Martin were not what some residents wanted to hear.

Texas-Brine officials say they have spent $3.5 million on residents of Bayou Corne so far. That is about $23,000 per family. "My house sits there uninhabited for over four months, closed up with no air circulating," said resident Jamie Wilber. "My interior has mold, cracks in the roof and sheet rock. My home is destroyed and my children have no intention of going back.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon testified that residents who haven't had their home owners' policies for at least 3 years could be in danger. "For anybody less than 3 years, like any other homeowner in America, they can be non-renewed," said Donelon.

The committee's have decided to reconvene Monday March, 18 to review the progress. That's a few weeks before the session starts in April to consider legislation relevant to the sinkhole.

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