A sinkhole in Assumption Parish Cajun land that has grown to 12 acres, threatening the development of another nearby area liquefying into muck that officials are monitoring, lawmakers in Baton Rouge heard Monday.
Louisiana lawmakers received an update Monday on latest developments surrounding the historic "sinkhole," that opened in early August near Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities, continues swallowing more of the environment and violating human rights of hundreds of locals.
Some of those community members live above the 1-mile by 3-mile Napoleonville Salt Dome that is collapsing.
Approximately 350 Cajuns and other residents have been under a mandatory evacuation since the collapse was reported.
State officials say they are continuing to watch the second nearby cavern owned by Texas Brine LLC.
Texas Brine's first collapsing cavern is viewed by scientists working for the state to be the cause of thousands of earthquakes in the area, methane leaking and crude oil emerging over the troubled swamplands since May.
The dangerous sinking area inland from the Gulf of Mexico had been predicted after BP wrecked the Macondo well in the Gulf.
The bayou country where the collapsing area is has become a national sacrifice zone.
Officials have said that the collapsing salt dome "sinkhole" could devour environment the size of 30 football fields.
The collapsed zone is now 12 acres large.
It was 9 acres until Sunday, when first estimates were that it had grown another acre after the latest series of heightened seismic activity that began a week ago.
A pattern of increased seismic activity followed by increased size of the collapsing area has been noted for months.
Explosions could occur any minute due to methane leaking and quakes causing a flashover.
“The sinkhole is constantly changing. It changes every time we go out there. Not just on the surface, but in the sub-surface,” said Gary Hecox, hydrogeologist with CB&I, formerly the Shaw Group, consulting for the state about how to manage the sinkhole.
Hecox has explained that "if you get a single bubble up and have an ignition source you can have a flashover.”
"A flash over is an explosion, like the kind you can see if you leave the gas on too long before lighting a propane grill." (WWLTV)
"Flashover is one of the most-feared phenomena among firefighters. Firefighters are taught to recognize rollovers and flashovers and avoid backdrafts," says Wikipedia. "For example, they have certain routines for opening a closed door in a building on fire, such as positioning adjacent to the door instead of in front of it, and to be ready to fight any advent of shooting flames.
"A firefighter has about 2 seconds to evacuate a flashover environment, even if wearing proper NFPA approved gear."
Hecox said a large natural gas bubble from the sinkhole lit by any ignition source could mean major damage on the surface.
Residents who have stayed behind live in the area at their own risk, seemingly unable to come to terms with the reality of danger and losing their beloved oil-cursed swampland homes, according to conversations with this reporter.
Texas Brine began contacting residents Monday to discuss buyouts and settlement offers.
WDSU reports that officials say they do not believe the second cavern collapse "is a safety threat -- for now."