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Quakes Make La. Sinkhole Rapidly Gulp Levee, New Action Taken

Unprecedented sinkhole disaster worsens
Unprecedented sinkhole disaster worsens
Assumption Parish

Fossil fuel industry's man-made quakes of late have intensified and damaged a levee holding Louisiana’s 26-acre chemical “sinkhole” lake to the point that a new barrier is being built in attempt to hold back the poisonous stew that is putting people, wildlife and communities at further risk.

A new plan had been discussed to try holding back the ever-growing sinkhole and its poisons from surrounding wetlands. Microquakes of late, however, caused the center of the Southern Berm, or levee, to sink, according to officials Thursday.

The new plan includes rerouting Bayou Corne if conditions deteriorate further. Bayou Corne runs just south of the levee’s southern portion, forming half of a semi-circular arc of waterways south of La. 70. A little further south, Bayou Corne joins Grand Bayou, that flows south to Lake Verret. Old-timers said from the onset of the sinkhole that it would ultimately join Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne, forming a devastating new waterway in the parish.

Scientists report that one of Napoleonville Sal Dome’s underground salt dome caverns near its edge, a cavern previously operated by Texas Brine Co until it quietly, with state knowledge, quietly abandoned it, due to problems. That cavern in the salt dome was finally breached.

The breach unleashed percolating methane gas from natural deposits last year and caused the sinkhole between the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities. It was first reported by community members on Aug. 3, 2012, as were two months of quakes and percolating methane gas in the bayous.

Texas Brine says that Wednesday, it began building a new barrier along the sinkhole lake’s southern due to rapid sinking under part of the levee that is holding back the monster’s poisonous contents.

“They started yesterday building back up the existing berm,” Sonny Cranch, Texas Brine spokesman, said Thursday.

A 200-foot-long part of the levee, or berm, sank and cracked due to earthquakes in late October. There have been thousands of quakes since or before the “sinkhole” developed.

Intense tremors between Dec. 23 and Monday caused more damage, parish officials said.

“Since November, Texas Brine has had to pump swamp water on occasion into the sinkhole to keep the water level of the hole close to the level in the swamp, balancing pressures on the levee,” the Advocate reports..

Approximately 44.5 million gallons were pumped through Dec. 9, enough to fill 69 Olympic swimming pools, according to Cranch.

John Boudreaux, director of Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said failure of the levee could cause “significant ecological problems.”

The latest drop left the levee about 4.5 feet lower than its designed height of 6 feet above the surface, according to Boudreaux. Without interim repairs, he said that the sunken section of levee probably would have gone underwater by Friday or Saturday.

This is all before typical Spring flooding of the swamplands and communities as northern snow melts.

This year, record-breaking snow from the north will melt, head south, and flood the bayou area.

A new approach to hold back the hungry monster sinkhole lake might involve a different design to lessen the impact on wetlands, possibly using interlocking sheets of metal to form a wall.

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