Sinkhole growing as drill arrives in bayou
BAYOU CORNE - As dozens of trucks arrived with drilling equipment to take a look beneath a sinkhole in Assumption Parish, authorities said the hole has continued to increase in size.
Christina Stephens, a spokesperson with the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the surface of the sinkhole near Bayou Corne is now 476 feet by 640 feet. Stephens said that's to be expected, as nearby land sloughed off into the slurry area.
Today, Texas Brine Company trucked some of the 25 loads of drilling equipment down to Assumption Parish to set up a rig in Bayou Corne. They'll drill down into a salt cavern to see if they can learn more about the cause of the nearby sinkhole, and how to prevent it from growing.
"We will set this rig up, it will be about a 140 feet tall, and it will actually help us drill in the salt below us, and drill over to re-enter the cavern number 3," said Bruce Martin with Texas Brine.
Texas Brine owns the land the sinkhole and salt cavern are on, and will continue sending trucks down tomorrow and Friday. Residents today said the big rigs coming in was a welcome sight.
"It's reassuring that they're taking big steps in getting to the bottom of this," said resident Dennis Landry.
Sonny Cranch with Texas Brine said crews also worked overnight to finish building an access point near the sinkhole, which will let them clear plants and other material off the surface of the sinkhole. He said assembling the rig will take two or three days, and drilling could begin this weekend or early next week.
Stephens said State Police teams set up an emergency command post near the drilling site, and continued to assist with traffic control getting the trucks down to Assumption Parish. The Department of Environmental Quality also continued monitoring bubbling in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou near the sinkhole, collecting air samples near any bubbling spots.
Stephens said none of the samples collected to this date showed any health threats, including environmental samples analyzed by the Department of Health and Hospitals.
Landry said he'll be glad once all the activity has calmed back down.
"We just want to return to normal here in our little bayou paradise, and right now it's just an unbelievable situation," he said.