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Jindal travels to sinkhole, says buyouts progressing

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BAYOU CORNE - Governor Bobby Jindal said today he met with people in Bayou Corne who'd been "uprooted" from their lives because of a sinkhole in the area, and received the latest information about work being done to deal with it.

Jindal said Texas Brine, the company which owns the land the sinkhole appeared on, is starting the buyout process for interested evacuees. He said the company received a court-approved list of residents last week, and will start approaching people to talk about settlements soon.

Jindal said the company may approach residents without attorneys, but will have to go through attorneys to speak to residents who've entered class-action suits.

"The bottom line is that Texas Brine is responsible for the sinkhole, and we remain committed to making sure that they clean up their mess," Jindal said.

He told reporters the sinkhole is currently 700 feet wide and 210 feet deep. He said worst-case scenarios had it growing to reach within 1,300 feet of the Bayou Corne community and 700 feet south of La. 70.

Jindal also said workers were finishing seismic readings and 3D imaging before installing more vent wells in the area to get rid of natural gas building up below the surface. He said work is also still happening on an earthen berm to stop the spread of dissolved contaminants onto surface water outside of the sinkhole and the surrounding area. That construction is scheduled to be finished in May.

Last week Jindal ordered a blue-ribbon commission be appointed to focus on the long-term safety of the Bayou Corne community. He said they'd specifically be looking at the levels of shallow gas in the aquifer, the stability of the western side of Napoleonville Salt Dome, and any future management or containment efforts at the sinkhole. Jindal said appointments to the commission would be made at the end of the week, and include scientific experts from state and federal agencies, academia, contractors and elsewhere.

News 2's Michael Shingleton will have more on Jindal's visit starting at 4 p.m.



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