Bayou Corne residents, officials reflect on 3-year anniversary of sinkhole

Published: Aug. 3, 2015 at 1:12 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2015 at 2:46 PM CDT
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BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) - Monday marks three years since the formation of the sinkhole in Bayou Corne and three years later, there is still a lot being done to ensure the safety of the small Assumption Parish community.

"It's important for us to see this through and make sure that all of the risks that are posed to them are eliminated," John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, said.

Boudreaux said the sinkhole has grown slightly over the past year, but activity has drastically slowed.

"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," Boudreaux added.

Still, with such an unprecedented and at one time unstable situation, officials continue to monitor the sinkhole site and surrounding areas.

"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.

"The people that remain here, we're doing okay," Dennis Landry, a Bayou Corne resident, said. "Things are slowly returning to normal."

Bayou Corne residents like Dennis and Patty Landry never left amid fears of the growing sinkhole. They said they were never willing to give up their piece of paradise on the bayou and are hopeful the sinkhole's future threat is limited.

The Landrys are just one of a handful of families still living in Bayou Corne, a community that saw its population decrease from more than 150 to just about a dozen since the sinkhole.

"We're still somewhat concerned about the gas, we're somewhat concerned about the hole, but there's been no major growth at the hole. The gas is diminishing, so that's a good thing," Landry added.

There's no doubt the sinkhole changed Assumption Parish and Bayou Corne forever, but three years later, those who remain remember why they'll always call the bayou home.

"The people that are here, they love it. The bayou is still beautiful, the scenery is still great, the fishing is still good, so we're glad we made the decision to stay," Landry explained.

A Bayou Corne sinkhole commemorative event is being planned for Tuesday, August 18 in Napoleonville.

Texas Brine, the company that owned the failed salt dome in Bayou Corne, also issued a written release on the anniversary of the sinkhole. It noted the following:

  • Advanced subsurface imaging techniques have confirmed that the Napoleonville Salt Dome is stable
  • The contents of the sinkhole are contained by a 2.1 mile containment berm system
  • The area of the sinkhole has remained relatively constant for the past 18 months at approximately 32.5 acres. The measured depth, too, has remained constant at +/- 180 feet
  • Testing by DEQ confirms that there have been no adverse water quality impacts to area surface water outside of the containment berm
  • Indoor and outdoor air monitoring shows that the air quality in Bayou Corne has never been affected by the sinkhole incident
  • While venting of gas from the aquifer continues today, 35 of the 53 vent wells originally installed are no longer producing gas and overall daily venting rates are down almost 95 percent
  • Texas Brine has supported the local Bayou Corne community by (i) paying $11.9 million in evacuation assistance payments; (ii) concluding a $16.5 million voluntary settlement program, and (iii) agreeing to a Court approved, $48.1 million class action settlement with affected homeowners

Officials said they remain committed to completing the sinkhole response and ensuring the safety of the residents in Bayou Corne. They added they will continue to work with Louisiana and Assumption Parish authorities.

Texas Brine filed a lawsuit in July against Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Texas Brine claims oil and gas drilling by the Occidental Petroleum Corporation damaged the salt dome and ultimately caused the cavern to collapse. The company is trying to recover more than $100 million in damages.

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