BAYOU CORNE, La. (AP) - Officials say 11 new bubble sites have been found in inundated swampland west of an 8.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish.
The sites are roughly in a row west of an unnamed oilfield access road extending south from La. 70 South through the wooded swamp.
The Advocate reports the sites bring to 34 the number of known bubble sites in the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas in the vicinity of the sinkhole on Texas Brine Co. LLC's leased property.
Scientists think the Houston-based company's salt cavern in the Napoleonville Dome failed deep underground, causing the sinkhole and unleashing oil and natural gas from formations along the salt dome face. That free gas is thought to be surfacing through many bubble sites and the sinkhole.
Parish officials said Tuesday that the discovery has led to speculation that the row of bubbles marks the edge of a suspected subsidence zone around the outer rim of the sinkhole and also prompted officials to shift the location of a 1,000-foot-deep well that Texas Brine had been directed to drill at the end of the access road.
The well will be moved to the front of the road, officials said.
John Boudreaux, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc. recommended the change to avoid the possibility that the well, which will be used to collect seismic data, would be compromised in the future.
"They don't want to make that critical mistake," he said.
Shaw is the agent for the Louisiana Office of Conservation, which regulates salt caverns and is leading the response to the sinkhole and its side effects. Conservation Commissioner Jim Welsh ordered the well to be drilled as part of an agreement with Texas Brine earlier this month that ended the company's lawsuit over response plans.