The sinkhole keeps getting bigger, and so do the lies of Texas Brine Co.


The crisis involving the Bayou Corne sinkhole in Louisiana just doesn’t stop. In what’s becoming an almost daily headline, the sinkhole grew again, swallowing up more trees and even part of an access road:

A 1,500 square-foot section caved in from the edge of a sinkhole in Assumption Parish Tuesday night and pulled down several trees and part of an access road, parish officials said Wednesday.

The road was built to park excavators used in pending cleanup of the sinkhole, which emerged Aug. 3 in swamps between the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas on property owned by Texas Brine Co., parish officials said in a blog post.

The 4-acre sinkhole has seen periodic edge collapses, or sloughing off, and has gradually become wider as the saturated soil on the edge falls into the slurry hole. Estimates before the most recent collapse put the width at 475 feet.

The continued growth of the sinkhole, which is about 70 miles west of New Orleans, is not surprising at this point. But the deteriorating situation raises the stakes that residents might be exposed to known carcinogens or elevated levels of radiation that have been found in the sinkhole, which is atop an abandoned salt cavern that the Texas company used for decades to produce brine. Anguished residents want to know when their lives will return to normal, and who can blame them? You can tell the problem is bad because officials — both with the state of Louisiana and with Texas Brine Co. — have gone to greater and greater lengths to evade responsibility.

But the stench from the latest whopper from Texas Brine is more foul than any odor from the growing slurry pit:

 The Louisiana Office of Conservation Commissioner James Welsh ordered Texas Brine Co. of Houston Tuesday to turn over all studies and data supporting its claim that tremors caused the failure of the company’s salt cavern in Assumption Parish, the agency said.

 The order, which threatens fines or penalties for noncompliance, follows Texas Brine’s statement late Monday night that regional seismic activity damaged an abandoned company salt cavern that has been suspected as the cause of a 4-acre sinkhole erupting near the Bayou Corne community.

You read that correctly. Remember, this is the site were Texas Brine warned state officials more than a year and a half ago that there might be problems with the cavern’s integrity, and then neither the company nor the state lifted a finger this summer when the ground began to shake and gases began bubbling up from underground. And yet now Texas Brine is trying to pull a fast one by claiming the earth tremors caused the cavern to sink — not the other way around.

A federal official called out the company’s claim as preposterous:

But, in Tuesday’s statement from the Office of Conservation, researchers also studying the quakes disputed that claim.

William Leith, U.S. Geological Survey senior adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards, said that the USGS consensus is that the seismic activity detected in the area is a consequence of the cavern collapse, not the cause of the collapse and sinkhole/slurry area, the office’s statement says.

The bottom line just keeps growing bigger in Bayou Corne, and the ultimate bottom line is this: Somebody is going to have to pay for both the environmental carnage and the psychological stresses have been dumped on this small bayou community. Now Texas Brine has the audacity to portray this as an act of God, when clearly this crisis was created by humans acting recklessly. Even if the sinkhole swallows the entire town, it can’t swallow the truth.

To read the latest on the ever-expanding sinkhole, please go to:

To read the remarkable claim by Texas Brine Co. that the sinkhole was caused by earthquakes, check out:

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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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