There is no end in site to the growing monster sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne, costing Louisiana $2 million for emergency response efforts so far, according to Louisiana State Department of Natural Resources.
Along with the unprecedented Frankenstorm that hit eastern United States Tuesday, another one of the costliest Halloween monsters this year is the unprecedented Bayou Corne sinkhole. It has caused Louisiana to outlay about $2.2 million so far in emergency response, according to a DNR spokesperson Patrick Courreges.
There is no estimate of when the emergency response needs in Assumption Parish will end, according to the Associated Press.
Courreges said DNR has no timeline for declaring the sinkhole stable or an estimate for what its final response costs might be.
“Those are not yet possible to estimate, because the fact gathering on the extent of the natural gas in the aquifer and the mechanics of the zone of collapse underground is still ongoing,” he said.
Due to the event, Governor Bobby Jindal declared a State of Emergency and a Mandatory Evacuation has been ordered since early August, both of which are still in place. About 350 people in the Bayou Corne community are under the mandatory evacuation order.
“DNR is using money from its own response budget to ensure swift action to protect the community; however, we will seek reimbursement from the responsible party and will hold Texas Brine accountable for all costs associated with the problems caused by its failed cavern,” Courreges said in an email.
(Watch latest sinkhole helicopter flyover video shot Oct. 29 here on YouTube. Note: The video sharing has been disabled, so cannot be embedded.)
A Texas Brine company spokesman Sonny Cranch said Monday, “Texas Brine has received no accounting of those costs, but when we do, we will address that issue in an appropriate manner.”
“The state says data shows the sinkhole is linked to the collapse of a side wall of an underground salt cavern that Houston-based Texas Brine operated,” AP reports.
Texas Brine has acknowledged a relationship between the sinkhole, the breached cavern and gas and oil found in both, but it suggests that the geologic tremors in the area, that began two months before the sinkhole appeared, might have caused its cavern to breach.
While the company extracted brine and piped it to nearby petrochemical facilities, the state had also issued a permit it to inject radioactive waste into one of its two caverns in the 1-mile by 3-mile Napoleonville Salt Dome. Scientists found that the radioactive waste is 15 times over the acceptable state level.
One outer edge of the dome is now gone, according to Dr. Gary Hecox of the Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., contracted by the state in its emergency response.
Much of the Department of Natural Resources’ spending on the sinkhole, about $1.6 million, has been paid to Baton Rouge-based Shaw group, for “area testing and for overseeing drilling operations to remove gas from the aquifer,” according to the AP.