A massive sinkhole has spread to 12 acres over the weekend in the rural Louisiana
community of Bayou Corne, forcing more than 350 residents to relocate.
The sinkhole has grown steadily in the last seven months, bringing a series of tremors as well as oil and gas leaks to the area, the environmental magazine Grist reported.
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The Houston-based salt mine Texas Brine Company reportedly caused the sink hole last August. Miners were excavating brine, a salty solution, too close to the surface from under a marsh in the area when they created the sinkhole. The brine was likely excavated for oil drillers to stabilize the earth around drilled wells.
Concerned about fires and explosions, officials have been containing natural gas and burning it to prevent dangerous combustions.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
discussed the issue at a press conference on Tuesday.
"Texas Brine is responsible for the sinkhole. We've been committed to holding them accountable. After months of discussions, after meeting with them last week, the company has finally agreed to start this process," Jindal said, according to the reports The Times-Picayune.
Texas Brine is paying the evacuated residents $875 per week for temporary housing, though some residents have reportedly already sued Texas Brine.
"They're the ones that are the responsible party. They caused this damage, and certainly we'll be aggressive in making sure that they pay their bills — whether it's to the state, local government or the folks they buy out," Jindal said, telling residents affected by the sinkhole
that the company owes the state more than $8 million for its response to the crisis, NPR reported.
Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said the company is committed to working with families to reach a fair settlement.
"We want resolution of this. We really, truly appreciate the emotional stress this has caused for so many of these people in the Bayou Corne area," Cranch says.
This isn't the first time a sinkhole has appeared in the Bayou State.
In November 1980, the state's Jefferson Salt Mine collapsed when a miscalculation sent an oil rig’s drill directly into the salt mine instead of under a lake, causing the hole, Grist reported.
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