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State: salt dome, mining operation failure likely cause of sinkhole and bubbles

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Posted: Aug 4, 2012 10:06 AM by Trey Schmaltz
Updated: Aug 4, 2012 10:06 AM
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Topics: bubbles, sinkhole, Assumption, Bayou Corne, evacuations

BATON ROUGE- State experts now think a failed salt dome, or mining operation, in Assumption Parish led to a sinkhole Friday and is also connected to a bubbling phenomenon in Bayou Corne as well as tremors in the area.

"Through consultation with all the scientists involved, DNR has determined that the potential failure of a portion of an inactive salt-mining cavern near the area ... is a likely cause of the occurrence and possibly the recent natural gas bubbling," the state said in a news release late Friday.

The sinkhole developed sometime early Friday morning, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for the people who live near it about 16 hours later.

"The Office of Conservation has issued an emergency order requiring a brine solution company to take steps to evaluate the structural integrity of one its inactive salt caverns," the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources said.

According to DNR, state leaders have been in contact with the company, and Texas Brine has "indicated that it intends to cooperate fully to evaluate the status of its cavern and take action to address any potential failure in structural integrity."

The bubbles are a natural gas mixture, and air monitoring is taking place. No unsafe air-related pollutants were found.

The bubbles began about two months ago, followed by earthquakes, then the sinkhole on Friday.

People in the area were asked to leave Friday night, a shelter was established at a school.

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