Sinkhole more stable day after tree collapse - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Sinkhole more stable day after tree collapse


Bayou Corne, La. - The area cordoned off on the Texas Brine property in Assumption Parish is under a Code 2, meaning everyone has to stay off.

Just 24 hours earlier, it was a Code 3.

Seismic monitors around the sinkhole picked up increased activity Wednesday morning, and late in the afternoon giant cypress trees sunk beneath the surface.

This has been happening off and on for more than a year, ever since a salt dome deep in the earth was breached. That caused a sinkhole to open up that now covers more than 24 acres.

Many trees have disappeared since last summer, but this is the first time Assumption Parish Director of Emergency Preparedness John Bourdreaux had his cell phone ready.

"It's very strange to have a tree go down vertically," he says. "Typically, earlier in the event, the trees would fall and would fall in horizontally. To have a tree go vertically subsurface still standing up is quite unusual."

Now Boudreaux's video has nearly 1 million views on YouTube. He hopes it will bring national attention to the problem Assumption Parish has been dealing with for 13 months.

The sinkhole forced the evacuation of more than 150 homes in Bayou Corne.

"It's not something we can leave to chance or say that's probably going to be okay," says Patrick Courreges of the Department of Natural Resources. "This is something that until we can... every scientist we pull together can say this is absolutely safe, this situation is under control or has stopped, then we back the parish that this evacuation order is appropriate."

Even the experts can't tell how long it will take for the ground to stabilize. Some estimates say months, others years.

But a spokesman for Texas Brine says the occurrences are happening fewer and farther apart, leading them to believe the sinkhole and ground below it are becoming more stable.

"As the disturbed settlements, disturbed by the breech, are beginning to settle in and compact, and that compaction leads to these little seismic activities and burps... and ultimately it impacted these few trees right here on the side of the sinkhole," says Sonny Cranch.

Cranch says no contaminates have escaped the perimeter set up by Texas Brine. 

Oil that bubbled up to the surface Wednesday will be collected once the area is deemed safe.

Cranch says the slough-in is just Mother Nature running her course - she could be running for a while.

"The cavern continues to fill," says Boudreaux. "It's estimated that it fills about a foot a day. With that rate, it still has 400 to 500 feet left to fill, so 400 to 500 more days."

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