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Bayou Corne Sinkhole Still Swallowing Louisiana 3 Years Later

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This update is the 21st article in this Opednews series about the Bayou Corne sinkhole.

BACKGROUND: In Spring of 2012, Louisiana's Corne and Grand Bayou residents noticed strange bubbling in the bayou for many weeks, and they reported smelling burnt diesel fuel and sulfur. Suddenly a sinkhole estimated to be the size of two or three football fields appeared on Aug. 3, swallowing scores of 100-foot tall cypress trees. The sinkhole resulted from the failure of Texas Brine Company's abandoned underground brine cavern. The Department of Natural Resources issued a Declaration of Emergency on Aug. 6, and 150 families were evacuated.

For maps, diagrams and additional information, please see the 20 previous installments in this series, listed at the end of this article.


Bayou Corne Sinkhole flyover, Aug. 1, 2015, On Wings of Care
(Image by On Wings Of Care/ Terese P. Collins)
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It's the biggest ongoing industrial disaster in the United States you have never heard of.

When the Bayou Corne sinkhole was discovered on Aug. 3, 2012, it spanned a couple of acres. A year later it covered more than 24 acres and was 750 feet deep - the depth is much less now, but the sinkhole continues to expand.

The evacuation order has been in effect for over three years, and has not been lifted.

The sinkhole was a result of the failure of an underground salt cavern, abundant in the area, and typically used as storage reservoirs for crude oil. This one, OXY3, was operated by Texas Brine and owned by Occidental Petroleum. Unsurprisingly, each accuses the other, but the bayou residents, both human and otherwise, were the real losers. Almost all the former residents have had to leave their paradise, and all the remaining cypress trees are expected to die in the near future, since they only thrive in shallower waters.

The growth of the sinkhole has slowed down considerably, but it is likely that it has not stopped expanding. John Boudreaux, director of the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, said that the sinkhole is now about 32.5 acres.

Texas Brine noted that currently, "The contents of the sinkhole are contained by a 2.1 mile containment berm system."

Still, no one seems to have a clue about how to fix it. Is it unfixable and unstoppable?

Mother Jones says:

Bayou Corne is the biggest ongoing industrial disaster in the United States you haven't heard of. In addition to creating a massive sinkhole, it has unearthed an uncomfortable truth: Modern mining and drilling techniques are disturbing the geological order in ways that scientists still don't fully understand. Humans have been extracting natural resources from the earth since the dawn of mankind, but never before at the rate and magnitude of today's petrochemical industry. And the side effects are becoming clear. It's not just sinkholes and town-clearing natural gas leaks: Recently, the drilling process known as fracking has been linked to an increased risk of earthquakes.

-Mother Jones, Aug. 7, 2013

Photos 2012-2015, for comparison

Note: roads/berms have been added since 2012.

Photos below are used with permission from the Assumption Parish Police Jury and On Wings of Care(OWOC), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife, wild habitat, and natural ecosystems.

This photo below is from the flyover by the Assumption Parish Police Jury on Oct. 29, 2012, nearly 90 days after the sinkhole appeared. It shows the sinkhole in relationship to the nearby Bayou Corne community (top.)


Sinkhole Oct. 29, 2012
(Image by Assumption Parish Police Jury, used with permission)
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Compare this photo to the On Wings of Care photo below, taken during their flyover on August 1, 2015. Note the Bayou Corne community location, at top.


Bayou Corne Sinkhole flyover, Aug. 1, 2015, On Wings of Care
(Image by On Wings Of Care/ Terese P. Collins)
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The photo below was taken in March, 2013, about 6 months after the sinkhole appeared.


Bayou Corne Flyover, March 1, 2013
(Image by Assumption Parish Police Jury, used with permission)
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Compare it to the photo below, taken by On Wings of Care during their flyover on Aug. 1, 2015.

Please note that due to the lower angle of the newer photo below, the difference in apparent size of the sinkhole is diminished. The higher angle of the shot above taken in 2013 enhances the apparent size.

However, it is still quite obvious, by comparing sizes of the circled objects, that the sinkhole is much larger. Note particularly the absence of most of the parking and work area shown in the white oval, in the newer photo.


Bayou Corne Sinkhole flyover, Aug. 1, 2015, On Wings of Care
(Image by On Wings Of Care/ Terese P. Collins)
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The location of this sinkhole is in Assumption Parish, Louisiana.


Map collage by Meryl Ann Butler using public domain images from the wiki
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler and Opednews.com)
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Below is a four-minute video of the flyover of the Bayou Corne sinkhole and community by On Wings of Care on July 27, 2015.

The new documentary, Forgotten Bayou: Life on the Sinkhole by Producer/Director Victoria Greene was a semi-finalist for a McArthur Foundation grant in 2014, one of 50 films considered out of over 400. Greene notes, "The loss of this community is not just significant to southern Louisiana. It's significant to the entire state even the country because you are losing culture. You're losing a small community, and all these small communities make up the backbone of America."

Here's the 3-minute trailer:

Forgotten Bayou: Life on the Sinkhole is hosting a community event at 6 pm on Tuesday, August 18, in Napoleonville, Louisiana in order to "bring the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities closer together so they can visit with their friends and former neighbors and focus on the future." Parish officials will be speaking and a local priest will offer a blessing. Additionally a short clip of Forgotten Bayou will be shown. For more information contact the hosts through the Forgotten Bayou website.


Bayou Corne Sinkhole flyover, Aug. 1, 2015, On Wings of Care
(Image by On Wings Of Care/ Terese P. Collins)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

On Wings of Care (OWOC) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife, wild habitat, and natural ecosystems. Founder and President Bonny Schumaker, Ph.D., is retired from 22 years as a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She's also a former Continental Airlines pilot and has been an FAA flight instructor for over 15 years. See more photos and info about the OWOC Bayou Corne Flyovers #17 and #18 -- 2015 July-August, here.

 

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http://www.merylannbutler.com

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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