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Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Residents worried as drilling approved near sinkhole

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ASSUMPTION PARISH - State leaders approved a permit today for Texas Brine LLC to begin drilling a relief well near a large slurry area in Assumption Parish.

The well would look into a cavern that experts believe could be causing mysterious bubbles in Bayou Corne and the nearby sinkhole, which forced people in the area to evacuate.

Today, workers began clearing an area the size of a football field for the drilling rig, which is expected to arrive by Wednesday.  It will take a couple of days to set up, and drilling could begin next week.

Today, residents said they were still worried about the risk of an explosion, as well as the possibility the sinkhole could expand.

"They've depressurized those lines completely," said resident Dennis Landry.  "There's no gas in those pipelines and the bubbling is exactly the same."

Officials in the area aren't taking any chances.

"Crosstex Energy has a cavern two wellheads away from the suspected well cavern number three," OEP Director John Boudreaux said.  "They will start moving off product in that butane cavern."

Although residents are worried about an explosion risk, officials said they believe the risk is low. 

"We have air monitors constantly monitoring and we will continue to be on site 24 hours a day in our command post," Boudreaux said.

Until residents in the area receive answers about what's going on, they will continue to live in fear.

"It's taking a toll on everybody physically, mentally, emotionally, in every way," Landry said.  "Everybody is under a lot of stress."

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