The entire area of the 1-mile by 3-mile Napoleonville Salt Dome is sinking, according to Bayou Corne sinkhole evacuee Harry Boudreaux when speaking to a reporter Saturday morning after a community meeting where he and other area residents hoped to learn the latest disaster developments impacting their human rights to security and health.
Boudreaux told The Advocate that when he used to go crawfishing in the 1960s near the area where the sinkhole now is, he had to climb a fence near Louisiana Highway 70 and then, hike 500 feet through the woods to get to the once pristine bayou filled with edibles.
“Now the fence is underwater and water’s right up against the road,” Boudreaux said. “I think the whole dome is sinking.”
Boudreaux was among the some 200 evacuees and others residents at a meeting Saturday morning who wanted officials to answer their questions about the oil and gas-related sinkhole, answers that again, were not forthcoming.
After deprived of new information for weeks, activists and concerned citizens gathered for their own Town Hall meeting.
Although officials reportedly urged a media censorship of that meeting, locals there called for weekly information meetings.
Assumption Parish President Martin “Marty” Triche then promised those weekly community meetings to update residents on the sinkhole and related matters.
The now infamous Louisiana sinkhole was discovered Aug. 3 in swampland between Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou on property owned by Texas Brine Co., parish officials have said in a blog post. The sinkhole is about 200 feet northwest of Texas Brine’s cavern, one of 51 such oil and gas-related storage caverns carved out of the underground Napoleanville Salt Dome beneath the communities there.
The top of the sinkhole expanded to 4-acres this week, swallowing more trees and part of a road built to expedite cleanup activities, according to officials.
That was a 1500 square foot additional section of the earth that caved into it, according to parish officials, who have repeatedly stated that scientists expect the sinkhole to continue expanding.
Gas bubbles have begun percolating further from the sinkhole, in the T’Loc Canal between Grand Bayou and Pierre Part, the 17th bubbling area in the sinkhole vicinity, officials reported Saturday.
An oil slick in the sinkhole area is now so powerful, it can be smelled a half-mile from La. 70 that is near its boundary. The diesel vapors are making some residents ill, they say.
Late last week, an unknown substance was found at the bottom of the cavern.
“The substance could be soil and sand that now has entered the cavern that created the sinkhole,” said the parish director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, John Boudreaux.
Locals worry about an explosion, the earthquakes they are feeling, and that the sinkhole will consume them on any given night. They say that they have been frustrated for almost two months due to not being well enough informed earlier about matters such as the Texas Brine collapsing cavern near the sinkhole having radioactive waste pumped into it and the massive butane-filled well that is only 1500 feet from the collapsing salt cavern.
“All this should have been stopped,” said Harry Boudreaux. “They should have been stopped from storing whatever they have in there.”
“I don’t feel comfortable here” another local, Randy Rousseau said this weekend. “I don’t feel safe. I don’t think this will get any better. The sooner I can get out of here, the better.”
“Obviously, this is a lot more complex than I would have ever thought and even the scientists are finding it very complex,” Assumption Parish President Marty Triche told the crowd Saturday morning at the meeting.
“This is a very serious situation because we don’t call mandatory evacuations very lightly.”
Locals agree that the situation is very serious. They are now calling on Governor Bobby Jindal to expand the area included in the Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou evacuation and urging 100 readers to do the same by signing their petition.