Texas Brine billed $321,000 for sinkhole - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Texas Brine billed $321,000 for sinkhole

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BAYOU CORNE, La. (AP) - Assumption Parish officials have asked Texas Brine Co. of Houston to reimburse the parish for about $321,000 spent in its response to a sinkhole now believed to have been caused by the company's failed salt cavern.

The 5.5-acre sinkhole near Bayou Corne was found early Aug. 3, prompting a mandatory evacuation of 150 homes in the area. The evacuation remains in place.

The Advocate reports parish officials and state agencies set up a command post in Bayou Corne to monitor and respond daily to changes in the sinkhole.

Officials say manpower costs, especially overtime, are mounting for the parish as the sheriff's office and parish police jury keep personnel stationed at the command post. Also, the sheriff has deputies monitoring evacuated areas 24 hours day.

"It is costly for this office and the parish to continue to police this thing," Sheriff Mike Waguespack said.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources officials and scientists with Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure have said the side wall of the cavern inside the Napoleonville Dome breached and allowed in 3.3 million cubic yards of sediments and naturally occurring oil and gas.

The movement of compacted earth resulted in underground instability next to the dome and led to the sinkhole, which is located 200 feet northwest of the cavern. This shift of sediments also forced brine from the cavern, which provided a conduit for the pockets of oil and natural gas to go to the surface.

The cavern is near the western edge of the Napoleonville Dome, a 1-by-3-mile salt deposit that stretches from deep underground to about 700 feet below the surface.

Waguespack said he submitted a bill earlier this month to Texas Brine for more than $125,000 for the first portion of the response, including manpower, supplies and meals. He said he is giving Texas Brine 30 days to pay but more bills will be forthcoming.

Police Jury President Martin "Marty" Triche said the jury submitted a bill of $196,000 last week to Texas Brine's office in Houston.

Sonny Cranch, Texas Brine spokesman, said both bills are being reviewed by the company.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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