Louisiana sinkhole now as large as the Louisiana Superdome

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Last week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal finally answered the question that had lingered in the humid bayou air for months, when he visited the giant sinkhole around Bayou Corne, about 70 miles west of New Orleans. And he came bearing….well, not exactly gifts but promises that the state would apply the necessary pressure to make sure the owner of the collapsing salt cavern under the ground, Texas Brine Co., would purchase homes in the danger zone at a fair price.

At the time, we asked whether Jindal’s visit was a case of too little, too late. That was largely a rhetorical question. Of course it was: State regulators ignored warnings going back to the start of 2011 of potential problems, acted dumbstruck when the community was hit by a wave of tremors and the smell of gas, even failed to show the proper sense of urgency when the earth collapsed and the sinkhole grew.

Now, Jindal and his minions are back in their safe, taxpayer-funded offices in Baton Rouge, while the crisis in Bayou Corne grows dramatically worse:

About 25 trees fell into the Assumption Parish, La., sinkhole and officials say a new crack formed Monday night in a well pad south of the lake-like slurry hole.

The Advocate reports experts working for the state Office of Conservation believe the collapse and cracked well pad are linked to now-calmed seismic events from late last week.

Oil and gas continues to shift under the ground near Bayou Corne:

Early on Friday, experts detected an uptick in “very long period” tremors, a type of stretched-out seismic event, that have been linked to fluid and gas movement underground.

The tremors were detected under the sinkhole and around the failed Texas Brine cavern.

Past increases in tremors sometimes have preceded slough-ins and burps by the growing sinkhole.

The edge collapse happened roughly opposite from a nearly 1-acre slough-in on the western edge of the sinkhole that followed other tremors earlier this month.

That earlier slough-in, combined with other measurement changes, had boosted the sinkhole’s area to 13 acres.

The story doesn’t note one milestone: At 13 acres, the sinkhole is now equal to the footprint of the massive Louisiana Superdome, which could now, roughly fit inside of it. Maybe that awareness will spur the state, and Texas Brine, to treat the sinkhole problem as more than just a one-day photo op but for what it truly is: A humanitarian crisis in the center of our state.

To find out more about this week’s expansion of the Louisiana sinkhole, please read: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2013/03/28/286395.htm

Check out my March 18 blog post on whether the visit by Gov. Jindal was too little, too late: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/too-little-too-late-jindal-to-visit-sinkhole/

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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