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Mysterious Bayou Sinkhole Continues to Cave In: Radiation, Hydrocarbons Detected

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Meryl Ann Butler       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   15 comments, In Series: Bayou Corne Sinkhole

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Bayou Corne Sinkhole Sept. 27, 2012.
(Image by Assumption Parish Police Jury (used with permission))
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Background: For many weeks, Louisiana's Corne and Grand Bayou residents noticed strange bubblings in the bayou, and they reported smelling burnt diesel fuel and sulfur. Then suddenly a sinkhole the size of three football fields appeared on Aug. 3, swallowing scores of 100-foot tall cypress trees. The sinkhole is believed to have resulted from the failure of an abandoned underground brine cavern. The Department of Natural Resources issued a Declaration of Emergency on Aug. 6, and 150 families were evacuated. For maps and additional background  information, see article "Does Sudden Sinkhole Portend a Nuclear-sized Explosion?" at click here
and article Dangerous Levels of Radium at Corne Bayou Sinkhole
 at click here

On the morning of Sept. 26, a new cave-in was discovered at the alarming sinkhole at Bayou Corne, near Napoleonville, LA.  A 1500-square-foot chunk of the southeast side fell into the sinkhole, taking in "many trees and part of the road that was built to park excavators on to resume cleanup activities,"  according to the Assumption Parish Police Jury  blog. (

Wilma Subra of the Subra Company notes these recent cave-ins in her article, Sampling Continues at Bayou Corne as Sinkhole Expands, (click here):
September 20, 2012: Approximately 25' of embankment on the east side fell into the sinkhole.
September 18, 2012: Texas Brine reported a slough-in of approximately 200' of embankment at the sinkhole.
September 17, 2012: Texas Brine reported a 20' x 20' growth of the sinkhole."

Prior to the Sept. 17 cave in, sinkhole growth had ceased for about a month.

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Green shows expansion of sinkhole from Aug 3 thru Sept 21, 2012.
(Image by Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness)
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The green area in this image shows the enlargement of the sinkhole from Aug. 19, when it was  described as the size of three football fields, through Sept. 21. (It does not include the 1500-square-foot area that caved in on Sept 26.)

Growth of the Bayou Corne Sinkhole (outlines & dimensions bolded for visibility)
(Image by Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness)
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This image shows the diameters of the sinkhole as of Sept. 21.  The  inner purple line shows the dimensions of the sinkhole on August 19th.  The outer orange line shows the dimensions on Sept. 21st. The original diameter of the sinkhole had been given as 372 feet.
(Note: This image is courtesy of Assumption Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness. I enhanced it by thickening the orange and purple lines so they could be seen in a smaller sized image, and by making the measurement numbers more readable. The previous image is from the same original image, I simply filled in the growth area with green color. The original document can be found at Measurements on these images were produced using satellite imagery as the sinkhole site remains prohibited.)

Sinkhole site comparison
(Image by Assumption Parish Police Jury YouTube Site)
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Care was taken to find two shots from flyover videos that both depicted a similar view of the sinkhole at the beginning of this disaster and at the current time: comparing the trees and grassy area at the top right corners of both images offers a sense of the similarities of the areas shown.

In her article, Subra also said "Volatile Organic Chemicals were detected at the bubbling locations on September 11, 2012 and September 14, 2012. State of Louisiana data shows that hydrocarbons in the sink hole sludge are dangerously elevated, while radiation levels exceeded background by only a small amount.  Based on this limited testing, this sinkhole sludge is a hazard because of the presence of the diesel fuel, which can contaminate air and groundwater. Hydrocarbon levels may also be in the flammable range.  
Radiation is still a concern.  The State of Louisiana found much higher levels of radiation in deeper parts of the sink hole than the place where we received our surface sample. There is enough radiation present to show that natural underground radioactive material has been concentrated in the sink hole. Even though the diesel hydrocarbons are currently the greater hazard, radiation testing should continue."

Anita Stewart, the host of the Wise Women Media Radio Show on the Here Be Monsters Network, interviewed two Louisiana residents who grew up on the bayou, on her Sept. 28th show (archived here click here). Anita is a a licensed medical professional, and longtime activist who lives near Tampa, FL who was elected to the Hillsborough County Soil and Water Board. 

Anita's guests were Linda Leavitt Westburg, Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Environmental and Health Coalition (GCEHC); and John Achee, a longtime Assumption Parish resident who is now working closely with diverse groups and committees involved in this situation.

Sinkhole site, 09/10/12
(Image by Assumption Parish Police Jury Photostream (used with permission))
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Linda characterized the Bayou Corne state of affairs as "an incredibly unsafe situation,"  with the heritage of Acadia and a "whole community being ripped apart by this disaster."  The  situation continues with the ongoing discoveries of new bubble sites in the surrounding bayous. Linda noted that the number of bubbling locations in the bayou has risen to 33.

Bubbling site near pipeline in Bayou Corne. 09.16.12
(Image by Assumption Parish Police Jury Photostream (used with permission))
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John noted that bubble sites were first reported on May 30th, and that the earliest report of seismic activity was on June 8. He notes that the reports of seismic activity subsided for a while after the sinkhole caved in on Aug. 3, but has increased over the last couple of weeks. Additional bubble sites have also been reported recently according to the Assumption Parish blog.

Chillingly, John referenced a newspaper article in which a Dr. Horton suspected that this could possibly be a cycle repeating itself: that more bubbles, and more tremors, could be heralding another sinkhole incident.

Linda offered these sites for more info:

08/13/2012 Flyover v=OMyobXZIKhk&feature=plcp
Flyover, 09/27/12
Assumption Parish Police Jury Website at

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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