How big has the sinkhole in the Louisiana town of Bayou Corne grown? Well, consider this: It’s become so big that even the state’s environment-unfriendly governor, Bobby Jindal, cannot ignore it anymore. Some eight months into the crisis — or maybe two years, if you want to go back to the very first warnings — our GOP governor is going to take the 50-mile short hop to see what’s going on:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says a Texas company blamed for the sinkhole that formed after the collapse of an underground salt cavern has agreed to provide settlement offers, which include buyouts, to the residents of the Bayou Corne community in Assumption Parish who were forced to evacuate the area as a result of the massive sinkhole.
State officials are concerned about the stability of a second Texas Brine salt dome cavern in the area, as well.
“Regarding the concerns with the second Texas Brine salt dome cavern—according to the Department of Natural Resources, there are no data at this time to suggest a failure is occurring or that a failure is imminent. But, we are not taking anything for granted,” Jindal said.
The governor said he will travel to the area next week to “review the ongoing response to the sinkhole and also review progress on the contingency plan” for the second salt dome cavern.
You know the old saying: It’s better late than never. But is it good enough? Or is it a case of too little, too late? Well, it’s hard to know if it’s too little without details of the offer that Jindal claims to have negotiated with Texas Brine. One thing to keep in mind is that these people have suffered enormously. Spending eight months away from home has been an incredible source of stress that has wreaked havoc with families and careers. What’s more, this part of Assumption Parish is an area with deep roots; many families have been on this land for generations. So we’re talking about a lot more emotionally invested than just the book value for these homes.
But is it too late? Oh yes, it’s definitely too late. As the article notes, state officials are now not able to assure residents of the area that there won’t be a second collapse related to Texas Brine’s activities. And there have been many signs of impending new problems in Assumption Parish, including more tremors:
According to officials, seismic activity called spasmodic bursts were reported from the site of the nine acre sinkhole Tuesday night in Bayou Corne.
Spasmodic bursts are many rapid-fire earthquakes. More than 90 mini earthquakes happened around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Some of the spasmodic bursts lasted a few minutes while others were longer. Tremors have been reported in that area as far back as last May.
This information was released about three hours before the news conference was over where Governor Bobby Jindal addressed the sinkhole.
And that’s not all. You might think that — given the ongoing problems in and around Bayou Corne — the Jindal administration and its agencies would yield to a more cautious approach on expanding underground storage and minerals extraction in the Bayou. But that’s not the way that things work here in the Sportsman’s Paradise of Louisiana:
The state Department of Natural Resources has granted the first of three state permits for the proposed expansion of an underground natural gas storage operation in the salt dome under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish.
AGL Resources, of Atlanta, is proposing to scour out two new salt caverns for its Jefferson Island Storage & Hub facility, where two existing caverns have been used for gas storage since the 1990s.
The proposed expansion has drawn opposition from residents living around the lake, several public officials in the area and environmental groups.
“We are going to continue to fight until the end,” Save Lake Peigneur President Nara Crowley said Tuesday. “They shouldn’t even think about granting a permit, based on what’s going on in Assumption Parish and what we have going on in the lake.”
So many problems that have already happened in Assumption Parish could have been avoided if top officials in the Jindal administration had heeded warnings — which started back in early 2011 and intensified last summer — that the Texas Brine cavern was in danger of collapsing. So many future problems could be avoided if state regulators like the Department of Natural Resources took their role as a watchdog more seriously. So yes, it’s good that Gov. Jindal is finally going to visit the sinkhole down in Bayou Corne — in the sense that it’s better than him still staying away.
Just don’t expect him to receive a hero’s welcome.
For a report on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s upcoming visit to the Louisiana sinkhole, please check out: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2013/03/14/284741.htm
To learn more about the mini-earthquakes that are rocking the Bayou Corne vicinity: http://www.wafb.com/story/21634428/more-than-900-mini-earthquakes-reported-at-giant-louisiana-sinkhole
Read the Advance article about the plan to scour two new salt caverns under Lake Peigneur at: http://theadvocate.com/home/5418173-125/dnr-grants-firm-permit-for
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