Sinkhole Swallows Trees Whole in Louisiana Swamp (Video)

Thursday, 22 Aug 2013 12:39 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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A massive sinkhole in a Louisiana swamp swallowed tall trees whole on Wednesday, a sign that the sinkhole was likely to get bigger.

The Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness posted a video of land being gobbled up by the sinkhole with water churning in Bayou Corne, reported WBR-TV. Assumption Parish is about 40 miles south of Baton Rouge.

Emergency preparedness staffers shot the video about 7:15 p.m. while they were examining the area. The workers said they saw the event about to happen and turned on a video camera to capture the dramatic footage.

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"The sinkhole continues to be active and growing," the office's director, John Boudreaux, told WBZ-TV. Boudreax added that while no homes are currently in danger, they are planning an emergency route around the sinkhole for Highway 70.

The sinkhole was discovered a little more than a year ago in the bayou, according to the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. The sinkhole has since grown to 24 acres, and 350 residents surrounding the area are faced with evacuation orders, if they haven't already left.

According to the Associated Press, the state of Louisiana sued Texas Brine LLC on Aug. 2 over the sinkhole and the environmental damage it claims was caused by the collapse of a salt dome cavern operated by the company.

"We have already pushed for buyouts for affected residents and are undertaking a thorough review of all of Texas Brine's permits in our state," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a statement after the lawsuit was filed. "This suit is just the next step in making sure Texas Brine does the right thing and properly addresses the mess it's caused."

The AP said Texas Brine, which is based in Houston, was drilling on the edge of a salt dome – a large, naturally occurring underground salt deposit – to create a cavern to extract brine used in petrochemical refining.

Scientists said the underground storage cavern was being mined too close to the edge of the salt dome, creating the sinkhole.

"The conduct and operations of the defendants resulted in the brine mining of the salt cavern to the point that the cavern became structurally unstable, thereby causing the collapse of the cavern and damage to Louisiana's waters, natural resources and the state's Coastal Zone," said the lawsuit.

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Related stories:

Louisiana Sinkhole: A Year Later, Residents Making Tough Choices

River Barge Transport of Fracking Waste on Hold

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