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Buyouts begin for people living near sinkhole

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BATON ROUGE - Assumption Parish President Marty Triche says buyouts and settlements being offered by Texas Brine are not all that needs to be done.

The company operates a cavern that is believed to be the cause of a sinkhole. Evacuations in the area started last August.

Triche told lawmakers on a joint committee that the state's resources remain needed. Triche says Assumption Parish and the people living there cannot afford to track the company's help and monitor the site long term.

Some homeowners say the entire process needs to be examined. John Ochee says he is asking the U.S. Attorney General to examine the relationships between the companies involved with the cavern and state agencies. Ochee told the panel he thinks at least two property owners should be involved with a committee of experts being formed to study the problems.

Texas Brine officials also testified, saying those who want buyouts are being contacted about appraisals. He says some people hired attorneys or joined class action suits, meaning the company will have to handle those negotiations with through the proper channels.

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