From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published March 22, 2013 01:52 PM

Sinkhole Threatens Louisiana Community

Sinkholes have been making headlines in the news lately like when earlier this month, a Florida man was unfortunately pulled to his death because of the mysterious land collapse.

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Florida in particular is prone to sinkholes because of underground limestone caverns in which the rock is extremely porous and dissolves easily in water. This softening causes land to sink and the event has the ability to collapse without warning, swallowing whatever lies above ground causing fatal destruction. While sinkholes are naturally occurring depressions in the Earth's surface that vary in both diameter and depth, they can also be caused by man-made industries, and consequently, another massive sinkhole in Louisiana is threatening an entire community.

After the collapse of a salt mine last year, tremors, oil and gas leaks have been sprouting up over a 9 acre area in Bayou Corne, Louisiana.

Houston-based Texas Brine has been mining salt near the community for over 40 years. The firm operates several salt wells where they inject water into an underground salt dome to leach out brine. The sodium chloride is used by petrochemical industries along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.

Before the sinkhole was a sinkhole, the area was swampland. Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said that one day the area was swamp but then after August 3rd of last year "there's nothing, except debris, floating vegetative matter, and as it turned out, there was some liquid hydrocarbon that had risen to the surface."

According to reports, the sinkhole is expanding and monitoring has shown underground shifting.

Members of the community have been displaced for over seven months now and are being paid weekly allowances by the company for temporary housing in safer locations. However, many of the 350 affected residents are still unhappy, and rightfully so. Having to leave their homes and livelihoods behind has been a struggle for most and the monetary compensation they have been getting is being reffered to as "hush money."

With their properties now worth zero as their community has been deemed an unsafe and unstable place to live, some residents have sued Texas Brine.

Cranch confirms that Texas Brine will work with families to reach a settlement. In addition, Texas Brine will have to ante up with the state because according to Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, the company owes more than $8 million for its emergency services and response to the crisis.

Read more about this story at NPR.

Sinking land image via Shutterstock.

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