DNR releases 3D seismic images of Bayou Corne Sinkhole

Published: Sep. 18, 2013 at 2:52 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2013 at 7:37 AM CDT
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BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - David Blanchard and other residents received the latest update on the Bayou Corne sinkhole Tuesday from officials from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. The affected residents have been under an evacuation order for 411 days.

"Where I'm staying at I cannot live there without paying bills for them and groceries and everything else," said Blanchard.

The presentation focused on the three-dimensional seismic profiles gathered by Texas Brine and interpreted by state officials.

"Anything that is remaining in the subsurface is going to be right up against the salt dome and that's what I think we found here and that gas up here is a really narrow window directly under the sinkhole," said one presenter.

DNR officials said the seismic images confirm what they already knew, that several areas of disturbance between the edge of the salt dome and the Texas Brine cavern resulted in the release of gasses and oils that caused the sinkhole.

Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin Triche said for frustrated residents, the new information is not enough.

"I wish we could come here and scientists would tell us expect 'A, B or C' but that's not the case. We're just getting more and more of the same and it's all predictions," Triche explained.

"I know it's just a trailer. It's not a $400,000 house, but I love my little spot and I would love to have similar but it will never happen," added Blanchard.

The latest seismic data is now in the hands of the state's Blue Ribbon commission made up of global experts in the field of geology and dealing with salt domes and gasses. The commission will create new safety benchmarks for those affected by the sinkhole moving forward.

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 been 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 24-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.

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