Officials find another "bubbles on the bayou" site
RAND BAYOU, LA (WAFB) -
Officials said another bubble site has been found near the area of the giant south Louisiana sink hole.
The Assumption Parish Police Jury said it was discovered Monday between two previous sites in Grand Bayou.
A news release classified the bubbling as small and added it will be monitored daily.
A meeting is scheduled for Friday at St. Joseph the Worker Church Hall in Pierre Part at 6:30 p.m.
The public will be updated on the sink hole and drilling operations.
Officials said the site of the slurry is still off limits and the cleanup remains halted.
The parish has requested Texas Brine provide a plan for continued cleanup.
UPDATED INFORMATION FOR 08-10-12
PIERRE PART, LA (WAFB) -
Officials responding to the massive sink hole in south Louisiana updated the public on efforts to contain the problem and protect the people living in the surrounding area Friday afternoon.
Leaders with the Louisiana State Police, Assumption Parish Police Jury, Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office were on hand to speak about the latest on the slurry in the Bayou Corne area.
They gathered at Sportsman's Landing on LA 70 in Pierre Part.
Officials have ordered Texas Brine, the company responsible for a salt cavern in the Bayou Corne area, to immediately drill a relief well to investigate. They must submit a permit by Monday or the company will be fined $5,000 per day. DNR wants this done immediately.
During the news conference, officials say the responsible parties will be held accountable and fined $5,000 per day until the situation is under control. The officials say they are investigating every potential source that may have caused the slurry.
DNR officials say the bottom line is they're waiting on Texas Brine to submit the application to drill the relief well.
Officials at a Houston-based brine company told residents of a rural Louisiana town that it will be at least 40 days before they get definitive answers.
Mark Cartwright, president of Texas Brine Co., said Friday the company spent the last week "intensely focused" on an emergency response as they try to figure out the cause behind THE sinkhole.
Cartwright says they'll be drilling a relief well to investigate a brine cavern they own housed within the Napoleonville salt dome, and it will take at least 40 days to drill the well. Scientists speculate the 372-foot wide and 422-foot deep sinkhole might be related to structural problems within the salt dome.
Members of a Louisiana National Guard crew that flew over the giant sink hole Wednesday reported it has grown larger.
The helicopter crew used infrared equipment to observe a 10 to 20 foot growth on the north and south ends.
Meanwhile, scientists with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality were on site testing Thursday for naturally occurring radioactive materials.
Initial tests found nothing radioactive, but more materials have been sent for further testing. Those results are expected back next week.
Assumption Parish President Martin Triche says officials should host another community meeting soon to answer residents' questions. "There are a lot of questions that haven't been answered," he said.
Sheriff Mike Waguespak says for next 40 days residents will see an increased presence of law enforcement. He says daily briefings will be held. "Rest assured we will do our level best to make sure your property is safe while you're evacuated," said Waguespak.
"There are no more excuses. No more delays. We'll monitor daily and brief daily. Our eyes are open and we are fully engaged," he said.
"Make no mistake about it, there are plenty eyes on this problem. Our biggest priority is to get you back to your homes."
UPDATED INFORMATION FOR 08-07-12
Sinkhole water analyzed
Presence of salt, diesel fuel may be link to salt cavern
BY DAVID J. MITCHELL
River Parishes bureau
August 07, 2012
A 381-foot-deep sinkhole that emerged last week near the Bayou Corne community is filled primarily with salt water mixed with traces of diesel fuel, while the muck and vegetation visible at the surface is only six inches deep, Assumption Parish officials said Monday.
A nearby 20-million-barrel Texas Brine Co. LLC of Houston salt cavern, which was plugged in 2011, was filled with brine, a water-salt mixture, for structural integrity, company officials have said.
Some closed salt caverns also have diesel fuel at the top as a “pad” to prevent erosion of the salt from the brine, said John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The disclosures Monday may further point to Louisiana Department of Natural Resources officials’ suggestions Friday that the sinkhole, which has a diameter of 372 feet, was caused by the possibly failed cavern.
“It’s suspect,” Boudreaux said.
Parish officials took more precise measurements of the hole Monday, which swallowed up one acre of cypress forest. They also obtained the analyses of back water samples taken on Saturday that indicated the presence of diesel and oil on the surface of the slurry.
Boudreaux said water in the slurry area also contains chlorides at levels 10 to 20 times the concentration of normal water. Chloride is one of two elements in the chemical compound that makes up salt.
Sonny Cranch, spokesman for Texas Brine, said company officials have been informed of the hole’s size and contents of the water but said he could not comment further.
“All I can say is we have received the information, and we are going to analyze that information and proceed accordingly. We still want to get an image of what is going on below,” he said.
Cranch said Texas Brine officials met extensively with DNR officials on Monday.
He said the company is trying to decide what kind of sonar-like underground imaging equipment to use to examine the site. The company also plans to use an imaging system that can be employed form the air.
Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Friday after the slurry was found and DNR ordered Texas Brine to try to find the problem and remediate it.
The slurry was found Friday morning after a foul diesel smell pervaded the area. For two months prior, earth tremors were reported and natural gas bubbled up from Bayou Corne, Grand Bayou and a nearby water well.
Fears the slurry would widen quickly and endanger wells holding flammable natural gas and other hydrocarbons prompted parish officials to call for an evacuation on Friday evening.
The evacuation remains in effect but parish officials are not forcing people to leave.
Boudreaux said parish officials have estimated that about half the 350 people in the Bayou Corne community along La. 70 South have evacuated. A shelter was opened Saturday morning at Belle Rose Middle School but no one has come to use it yet.
Nancy Malone, American Red Cross spokeswoman, said Monday many who have left have gone with family and friends, but the shelter is on standby.
Short on cash after recently buying land and setting up a mobile home at Bayou Corne, Linda and Wallace Cavalier packed up their camper Friday and are at a trailer park just down La. 70 from Bayou Corne near Pierre Part.
Linda Cavalier, 52, said she and her husband are staying next to her brother and his wife and family in the park.
While the park costs $20 per day, she said that will add up over a month and, like some other residents, said she wants to see what officials say 6:30 p.m. Tuesday during a meeting at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church Hall in Pierre Part.
“We’re waiting for the meeting Tuesday night to see if they can give any answers on exactly who is responsible, what is going on and how long they think it is going take to resolve the matter and move forward from there,” she said.
Cavalier said if the process takes too long, they may have to move in with family because she can’t afford an extra $600 per month to stay in the trailer park.
Shelly Hernandez, 41, and her husband, Tim, 46, have remained in their home south of La. 70 even as neighbors left.
They have three dogs and two exotic birds. Shelly Hernandez described herself Monday as being stuck between staying and moving as she tries to find a suitable place for her pets.
She said the whole situation is “mindboggling” and has been causing her a lot of stress, but added it is hard to assume the added expense of leaving when she is not forced to do so.
“We cannot just leave. I am not going to abandon my house when it is still sitting there, when we don’t have to leave, when we’re not forced to leave. They don’t pay my bills,” Hernandez said.
The watery sink hole was discovered the day after building “swarms” of shallow, small earthquakes ceased, said Stephen Horton, research scientist with the University of Memphis Center for Earthquake Research and Information.
The center has been working the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor the tremors.
He said the number of earthquakes had been building from tens per day around July 12 to several hundredper day — most too small to be felt — before they stopped about 2 p.m. Thursday.
Boudreaux estimated the slurry emerged between 3 and 6 a.m. Friday.
Horton said the close proximity in time between the emergence of the slurry and the halt in quakes is “suggestive,” though he said he could not say why they stopped.
He added that the fact the tremors were shallow, at a depth of a half-mile, makes it possible the tremors were man-made, not natural, though it is not evidence of that.
Horton said he has seen such swarms of earthquakes before in other places.
“To have it happen in Louisiana, obviously, it’s going to take some explanation,” he said.
Evacuation ordered for Bayou Corne community
updated information for 08-05-12
Sinkhole causes Hwy 70 to close after pipeline bends
BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) -
Although officials in Assumption Parish say the massive slurry sinkhole near Bayou Corne hasn't gotten any bigger since last night, it is causing more problems for the residents living near.
According to a release from Assumption Parish Police Jury, parts of Highway 70 were closed after crews discovered a bent natural gas pipeline underground near the sinkhole.
The highway is expected to be closed until tomorrow afternoon so the company that owns the pipeline can safely depressurize all the lines in the area.
Meanwhile residents want answers to this bizarre problem.
"To be honest with you, I'm not real optimistic that we're going to get definite answers real soon. I think it's just going to take a little more time," Dennis Landry said.
Officials say it will take some time to find the source of this sinkhole called the slurry that appeared Friday morning.
Assumption Parish Sherriff Mike Waguespack says several departments will be working around the clock to ensure the problem is taken care off as soon as possible.
"We just want to reassure the community that we brought extra security in town. We're getting help from the Sherriff's Association Task Force and we're going to have deputies very visible in your neighborhood throughout this process," Waguespack said.
Officials have ordered an evacuation of some 150 homes around the Bayou. Red Cross has a shelter for these residents if they choose to leave.
State, parish and facility owners in the Bayou Corne Area will host a meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church to update the community on the situation.
===== BREAKING NEWS UPDATE 2========
UPDATED POST 08-04-12 1:40 PM
On alert: multiple agencies tracking/watching sinkhole, gasses
Posted: Aug 4, 2012 10:25 AM by Trey Schmaltz
Updated: Aug 4, 2012 10:25 AM
BAYOU CORNE- A giant sinkhole that has developed was monitored overnight and into Saturday morning.
The Louisiana State Police Air Support Unit kept their eyes on the scene, and are expected to return for more assessments.
The Louisiana State Police Hazmat Unit also continues to monitor developments.
Throughout the night, Louisiana National Guard used night vision-equipped aircraft to assist local leaders in monitoring the sinkhole.
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality staff continues to take air samples at bubbling sites for flammability and hydrogen sulfide. Thus far, there have been no levels high enough to register on the monitoring equipment.
People have been evacuated.
The state believes the sinkhole that developed Friday, and bubbles that were noticed nearly two months ago, are the likely cause of a salt dome failure.
Officials from the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Department of Natural Resources, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard and the Department of Environmental Quality have engaged with local officials in Assumption parish who are responding to the threat of subsidence and subsurface instability in the area of Bayou Corner in Assumption parish. DNR has issued an emergency order to compel the Texas Brine Company to take all necessary steps to evaluate the integrity of its salt cavern which ultimately may help provide relief to the sink hole.
For several weeks, state, local and federal officials have been investigating reports of unexplained bubbling and tremors in the area. On Thursday, an area of wooded swamp located in this area began to subside, engulfing large trees and creating a several hundred foot diameter area of a slurry mixture of muddy water and soil where trees and vegetation were the day before.
Assumption parish has declared a state of emergency in order to monitor and respond to the threat posed by this incident to its citizens.
Governor Jindal issued an executive proclamation Friday evening that allows GOHSEP Director Kevin Davis to respond if Assumption parish leaders need support in their response to this continuing threat. It also directs state departments, commissions, boards, agencies and officers to cooperate in actions the State may take in response.
GOHSEP is coordinating information sharing between local, state and federal officials. Officials are determining if Highway 70 near the sinkhole will have to close. The nearest residence is around a half mile from the center of the sinkhole and the parish has ordered a mandatory evacuation of the area.
On Friday, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle announced that the Office of Conservation has issued an emergency order requiring a brine solution company to take steps to evaluate the structural integrity of one its inactive salt caverns that may have played a role in both events and remediate any problems found.
Through consultation with all the scientists involved, DNR has determined that the potential failure of a portion of an inactive salt-mining cavern near the area that has been described as a "slurry area" or "sinkhole," is a likely cause of the occurrence and possibly the recent natural gas bubbling, based on the best available information.
The Texas Brine Company is the operator of record for the cavern in question, which was used from 1982 to 2011 as a brine mining cavern - in which water was used to dissolve salt from deep within the Napoleonville Salt Dome, with the resulting brine water marketed to supply various industry needs. The cavern was never used for storage of natural gas or any other hydrocarbon, though naturally occurring gas is sometimes encountered in such formations and may have accumulated in the cavern after it was no longer active.
The company ceased operating the cavern in 2011, plugging and abandoning the well that was used to access it.
The other regulated operating companies in the area will also be notified of the Office of Conservation's Emergency Order and additional orders may be issued.
Final determination of a positive link between the Texas Brine Company cavern and either the natural gas bubbling or the slurry area has not been made, the Emergency Order has given the company 24 hours to begin the evaluation and remediation efforts.
DNR officials have already been in contact with the company, and the company has indicated that it intends to cooperate fully to evaluate the status of its cavern and take action to address any potential failure in structural integrity.
SUPPORT AND TESTING
The Louisiana State Police Air Support Unit provided aerial assessment flights of the scene for local, parish and state officials. LSP air assets will return in the morning for additional assessments. Also, the Louisiana State Police Hazmat Unit continues to monitor developments and coordinate needs with stakeholders. The Louisiana National Guard is performing an overnight flight using night vision-equipped aircraft to assist local leaders in monitoring the sinkhole tonight.
Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality staff continues to take air samples at bubbling sites for flammability and hydrogen sulfide. Thus far, there have been no levels high enough to register on the monitoring equipment. DEQ staff is prepared to take sophisticated isotopic samples at bubbling sites to see if that data will provide more clues to the cause of the bubbling.
DEQ has conducted air monitoring at 92 residences to date with the homeowner's permission. No unsafe air-related pollutants were found. In addition, air monitoring was conducted by boat in the areas of the bubbles in Bayou Corne.
===== BREAKING NEWS UPDATE=========
ASSUMPTION PARISH, LA (ASSUMPTION PARISH POLICE JURY) — The Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has called for a mandatory evacuation effective immediately. The evacuation area is from the home of Randy Rousseau south to all residents within the Bayou Corne Community. The OEP office is currently coordinating with the Red Cross to establish a shelter location ready to be opened at 8:00 on Saturday, August 3, 2012.
Scientists from the State and Federal Government are uncertain of what the actual possible risks are. All agencies will continue to monitor the situation.
The Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness will continue with 24 hr. operations. At present time, there is no anticipated closure of Highway 70.
The previously noted bubble locations have not changed. If anyone has information on bubbling locations or about a potential origin of the gas, please contact the Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at (985) 369-7386.
BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) -
The Assumption Sheriff's Office says 150 homes near a sinkhole in the Bayou Corne area have been evacuated.
Authorities said a 200 foot by 200 foot "slurry" area of collapsed land was discovered in Assumption Parish Friday morning. All of the trees in the 200 square foot area were consumed by the slurry.
Parish officials said residents in the Bayou Corne community reported a diesel odor and all state agencies were immediately contacted to investigate it.
This is the same area where people have reported bubbling on the bayou.
The Assumption Parish Police Jury said the "sink hole" was found south of LA 70 in the swamp area between Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne, about a half-mile from the highway.
The nearest home is about 2,500 feet away. The area is also about 1,900 feet from the closest bubbling location.
The parish police jury said the trees in the "slurry" area collapsed.
Sheriff Mike Waguespack says the sink hole is several hundred feet away from several pipelines and a propane well.
Crews will fly over the area in helicopters to see if there are any other collapsed sites.
Officials said they don't think LA 70 will need to close, but that could change.
The Red Cross is working with the Assumption Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to open a shelter for displaced residents.
Governor Jindal issued an executive proclamation Friday evening, allowing the Governor's Office of Homeland Security to help if parish leaders need assistance.
The Office of Conservation has issued an emergency order requiring the Texas Brine Company to evaluate the structural integrity of an inactive salt cavern near the sinkhole. The company operated the salt cavern from 1982 to 2011 as a brine mining cavern. When operations at the mine ended, the company plugged the well used to access it.
The Department of Natural Resources says that a link between the company's cavern and either the natural gas bubbling or the sink hole have not been positively identified.
If you see anything strange in the area of Bayou Corne
, call the Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office at 985-369-2912