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Louisiana sinkhole draws stepped-up state homeland security response

Mark Rockwell
Government Security News [1]
August 24, 2012

A 400 foot wide, 400 foot deep sinkhole in a Louisiana bayou 80 miles northwest of New Orleans has the state’s homeland security and emergency agency stepping up its monitoring efforts as the gaping hole threatens surrounding infrastructure in the area.

The sinkhole in Assumption Parish’s Bayou Corne threatens roads, gas lines, and salt caverns in the area. The caverns, created in mining salt, brine and sulfur, are also used to store natural gas, and other petroleum by-products. The potentially volatile caverns have local residents worried about fires and explosions. Gas lines in the area have been depressurized, however.

Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency for the area on Aug. 3. When the sinkhole continued to expand the week of Aug. 13, parish law enforcement said 150 homes and 350 residents were forced to evacuate.

The Louisiana Governor Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said on Aug. 22 that a slew of state agencies were ramping up round-the-clock operations at Bayou Corne, as the owners of salt caverns, Texas Brine, began drilling a well casing for an exploratory well near the sinkhole to gauge the integrity of a nearby salt cavern that had been plugged in the 1980’s after being used for 30 years. Officials think the cavern may have been compromised, leading to the sinkhole’s formation. There is also a concern about low levels of radioactivity seeping from the sinkhole.

Full story here. [1]