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Louisiana sinkhole: 25 acres & expanding (Bayou Corne area)

Below Louisiana’s surface are towers of salt deposits rising from what used to be an ocean floor. Oil and gas companies mine into the salt to store butane and natural gas or to extract brine for industrial uses.

The state contends that Texas Brine and Occidental mined the Napoleonville Dome to the point that it became unstable, triggering a collapse that sucked in the earth and forced Bayou Corne-area residents to evacuate their homes.
In "La. shuffling funds to pay for Bayou Corne sinkhole" , Baton Rouge Advocate, Dec 22, 2013.

(1) More snippets @Lousiana's emergency response (State level) to the sinkhole:
Seventeen days into the new state budget year, the state Department of Natural Resources needed to borrow $8 million from the state treasury to meet the day-to-day expenses of Bayou Corne.

Months later, the money’s almost gone.

DNR’s biggest expense is paying CB&I to help with the science behind a 25-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish.

The agency also is spending dollars on supplies, travel and personnel. DNR’s expenditures on Sept. 18,roughly two months after Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols signed the request for a seed of federal funds,already clocked in at $7.4 million.

Across state government, dollars are being shifted to pay for sinkhole-related expenses.
Back when the sinkhole was 8.6 acres, DNR (LA's Department of Natural Resources) hired Baton Rouge’s The Shaw Environmental Group to deal with issues, such as determining how to vent off the methane.

CB&I later acquired Shaw.
DNR expected to pay CB&I $6.3 million as of Sept. 18. The state Department of Transportation and Development has spent nearly $1.4 million on feasibility studies, monitoring and equipment. The state Department of Environmental Quality spent $593,538 on a mobile air monitoring lab, command center, mileage and equipment, not including other expenses.

The treasury loan that DNR received came from federal funds. DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas tapped into an emergency fund. DEQ and other agencies are using money from their budgets.
Deputy State Treasurer Jason Redmond said seeds — or treasury loans — are granted one fiscal year at a time. He said DNR must repay the money by Aug. 15, 2014.
LeBas said she spent dollars putting in place a monitoring system to pinpoint any problems in the highways and bridges near the sinkhole. She said she also spent money on feasibility studies in case a detour or a bypass is needed because of issues with La. 70. So far, she said, there is no indication of problems.

“We’re just being proactive and moving through the process,” she said.

Patrick Courreges, communications director for DNR, said his agency might need another treasury seed, given the speed with which the $8 million is being spent. He said there is no timeline for pulling out of Bayou Corne
To date, the state’s sinkhole-related expenses are approaching $10 million.
(2) The Assumption Parish put on its website a host of "Maps and Meeting Presentations":

(3) The human element. There have been countless articles and youtube videos.
Currrent article, Newsweek, Dec 17, 2013:
So far, there hasn’t been a fiery explosion. But, in addition to consuming all those trees, the sinkhole has caused small earthquakes and spewed gas and oil. And it’s still growing. State officials estimate it will expand from its current size of about 26 acres to at least 40 acres over the next several years. If, while doing so, it breaks through a modest earthen barrier, it will poison the waters of Bayou Corne, forever spoiling these verdant banks.
Once a rural paradise, Bayou Corne could become a ghost town as a result of a man-made ulcer whose depths defy understanding.

Cancer Alley, a stretch of about 100 miles between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is home to some 150 petrochemical plants, making these swamplands perhaps the most industrialized (and polluted) region in the United States.

The latest plague ravaging Cancer Alley is that enormous sinkhole in Assumption Parish, a burgeoning cavity that is a pestilence both real and symbolic, relentlessly swallowing land while reminding residents of the despoliation the past 60 years have inflicted on their sinuous bayous and abundant cypress groves. As Bayou Corne’s citizens abandon their homes, fleeing the specters of methane and vandals and depressed home values, they stand to become yet another Louisiana community sacrificed to the twin gods of oil and gas

(4) Articles on health hazards and citizen activism:
"Louisiana Sinkhole Radiation Abuse and Cover-up Continue"
Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) confirmed last week that a 1979 state statute prohibited disposing NORM in large underground salt deposits like Napoleonville Dome until 1999 legislative changes made such disposal legal.

“What we’re going to do is investigate this thing the best we can with the information from 1995 and move forward as appropriate,” said DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett
In August 1995, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Office of Conservation did not object when Texas Brine considered putting up to 20 cubic feet of NORM in an underground company cavern in the Napoleonville Dome and in another salt dome in Lafourche Parish, according to DEQ and state Office of Conservation records.

It is unclear if Texas Brine followed through on those plans, according to the Advocate.

Texas Brine officials said in a statement last week that they did not put NORM into its caverns but that it remains onsite under a standing license that DEQ gave to it.

(5) Late-breaking news every day. Three days ago:
Surprise: Louisiana Sinkhole Slid Sideways Before Collapsing

(6) to (infinity) Your input...?
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Cool. My mom's family lives near Napoleonville, where they grow sugar cane. These sinkholes happen from time to time. I recall years back when an oil company was drilling an exploratory well, maybe in Lake Verret, and hit a salt dome. The drilling rig got sucked right down the hole, along with a couple million gallons of water before the dome filled. Florida has their limestone sinkholes. Louisiana has our salt dome sink holes.

I've always wanted to go down into a salt dome. I've seen pictures of big equipment mining the salt. Like under Avery Island (home of Tabasco Sauce)
Queen Bee, in 2010, started a more general thread in the Design, Space, and Place Forum:
Cisterns and sink holes

Six Cyburbians joined that topic with some pretty good info and cool anecdotes.

The Bayou Corne sinkhole is obviously a new topic in the Environmental Planning Forum. Hoping that planning-minded people visit and share their opinions on both topics that were started.:)
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