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La. Sinkhole: Evacuees Angry, Gov. Jindal Still MIA

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been missing in action, Bayou Corne residents say, since he has refused to step foot in his state’s disaster area impacting a minimum of 350 residents, those in the mandatory evacuation zone, and an untold other population excluded from the evacuation zone. Jindal briefly appeared at a sinkhole hearing in Baton Rouge last week. (Image Credit: Progressive Democrats)

 

Residents from Louisiana’s Assumption Parish collapsing salt dome “sinkhole”  area have been energy evacuees for almost six months and are angry about being forgotten by their governor and the nation, according to a new report by WWLTV.

“We could drop the boat right there to go fishing. It was just like a paradise,” said former Bayou Corne resident Jamie Weber at the hearing in Baton Rouge.

Weber had to move hear family out last fall, leaving a sign on her old home: Evaucated: Thank you Texas Brine.

At least one Bayou Corne energy evacuee, in her video below, says that she is living in her car.

 

Oil and gas service industry Texas Brine LLC is the company blamed, or “scapegoated,” for the sinking 1-mile by 3-mile salt dome, migrating methane and earthquakes in the fault zone. The company has a faulty cavern in it where the state had permitted it to store radioactive waste.

Like many locals, Weber had no idea she was placing her mobile home atop an underground salt dome where even radiactive waste was being stored, along with an array of dangerous oil and gas industry chemicals. 

The 1-mile by 3-mile Napoleonville Salt Dome is full of caverns been mined to make brine, or salt water and to store hazardous, potentially explosive gasses, like butane.

Geophyisicists say the western side of one of Texas Brine’s caverns is collapsing, causing the sinkhole at the surface to expand and contract.

“On Oct. 25, we moved out of our home when we finally found a rent house because they had put a vent well a hundred yards from my house,” Weber told a joint legislative committee at a sinkhole hearing at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge last week.

She and some of the 350 evacuated Bayou Corne residents packed the hearing room, spilling into another overflow room last week, all seeking answers, wanting to have their say – and wanting to see their governor, who has been missing in action.

“The cause of the sinkhole is the subject of pending litigation. At this point, I don’t think it’s proper to have any discussion about what the cause is and whether we accept what anyone has said regarding the cause of the sinkhole,” Troy Charpentier, an attorney for Texas Brine, told the committee.

The secretary of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) flat-out testified at the same hearing, “The cavern collapse led to the sinkhole and created a path for the natural gas to come to the surface.”

Reporting for WWL, Katie Moore reported that DNR Secretary Stephen Chustz “slipped out a backdoor,” with his press secretary only offering an interview with him after the hearing – “without giving us the chance to ask him any questions.” One of those questions: What caused the cavern to collapse?

Gary Hecox answered that one for the crowd, “The sinkhole is constantly changing. It changes every time we go out there. Not just on the surface, but in the sub-surface.

Gary Hecox, a hydrogeologist with CB&I, formerly the Shaw Group and chief consultant for the state about how to best manage the sinkhole, again said, “it’s uncharted territory.”

“The cavern was 3,400 feet deep, which is deeper than any known cavern failure impacting the surface in the international record,” Hecox said.

“Nowhere in the world has a brine cavern this large collapsed, and Hecox said the data shows it’s not finished yet,” WWL reports.

Hecox said, “We still have 450 feet to fill. How long is it gonna take to fill this up? At one foot per day, we’re still looking at an event that’s gonna run over a year.” 

Every time the collapse shifts or “burps,” recently installed seismic monitors record the mini-quakes and big gas bubbles, vegetation and crude oil are released to the surface. 

“It appears that the sand and gravel that’s in the bottom of the sinkhole breaks up a large gas bubble into many small bubbles just like an aquarium,” said Hecox. “That is a good thing. Because if you get a single bubble up and have an ignition source you can have a flash over.”

Fear of a flash over, an explosion is a daily reality in the area.

“We continue to install relief wells as fast as we can and will continue to do so as they continue to be effective,” said Bruce Martin, vice president of Texas Brine.

Bubble sites popping up in neighborhoods typically dry during flooding after a recent rain storm caused Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), to raise a red flag with Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality.

“A house acts like a tent. So, if it’s migrating up through the soil, and it’s being caught in the house, it’s building up concentrations in the house. And then if it reaches explosive level, then one little spark in the house would set it off,” stated Subra.

One of the residents, Nick Romero, who has stayed behind testified before the legislative committee. He now has five DEQ monitors installed in his house to measure natural gas and other chemicals.

“We have had our grand kids and now we can’t. I love to fish. And now I don’t want to,” he told the committee members, choking back tears.

“Once they told us that they wanted to put monitors in our house and that we’d have to live like, to me, like lab rats, to me, that was no way for my kids to grow,” Weber said.

Where’s Big Energy Bobby?

Many feel forgotten, especially by Gov. Bobby Jindal, according to Weber at the hearing last week.

(See: Sinkhole residents demand Gov. Bobby Jindal meeting and La. Sinkhole Radioactive Material Tapped, Gov. Jindal Hiding Catastrophe (Video))

WWL reports, “The governor has yet to visit the sinkhole site or publicly talk about it.”

“He’s promoting plants around the area, chemical plants. And he was in the area and he wouldn’t, still to this day does not acknowledge it,” stated Weber, referring to Jindal announcing in Oct. and Nov. two chemical plant expansions a few miles from Bayou Corne, one in nearby Geismar and one in Donaldsonville.

WWL restated, “But in six months, he’s made no visit to the sinkhole site.”

“Where is he?” Weber asked. “Where is Jindal? He’s all over the United States, but he can’t come forty minutes south of Baton Rouge and visit.” 

When the sinkhole first appeared on August 3, it was just 400 feet in diameter. By mid-February, it had swallowed nine acres. Now scientists say the worst-case scenario is it could swallow 40 acres, the size of 30 football fields.

Weber, like many residents, live in just hope that Texas Brine will buy them out so they can move on.

The company told residents they are working to stabilize the area before tackling buy outs because some residents still hope to return.

Other residents have succombed to the area being another National Sacrifice Zone.

Lawmakers are planning another joint hearing on the sinkhole March 18.

 

Copyright 2013 Deborah Dupré

Please seek permission from this author before copying this article for email or website reposting. Copyright violation is not a victimless crime.

_____

Human Rights news reporter Deborah Dupré is author of “Vampire of Macondo, Life, crimes and curses in south Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don’t want you to know,” 450 pages packed with censored stories about the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico that continues causing hidden catastrophic human and environmental devastation. 

Follow Dupré on Twitter @DeborahDupre. For interviews, email [email protected]



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    • Mark Brander

      If you live in the area you need to move, now! The problem is going to deteriorate exponentially. For two years the high temperature and high pressure crude from the BP deep well has been forcing it’s way into an extremely large deposit of methane hydrate and melting it. They were warned not to drill the area because of the deposit.

      The hydrate is being turned into methane gas at a rate of 160 to 1. It is migrating throughout the gulf region and the Gulf States. The tremors and explosions are going to increase, houses and buildings will blow up after the odorless methane builds up and someone turns a light on.

      People will die from methane poisoning and never know what hit them.

      God is Judging America! Read His warnings at Prophecies Org All hell is going to break loose in the USA and it will come from every direction you can possibly imagine. Repent of every sin you can think of ever committing, quit sinning, and turn to Jesus, trying to shoot your way out of or through the tribulation is still going to land you in hell. Thou Shalt Not Kill! Under any circumstances….

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