Bayou Corne community outraged with lack of warning of toxic gas found

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POSTED: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 5:33pm

UPDATED: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 9:42am

Assumption Parish emergency officials are outraged after they say Texas Brine failed to tell them that toxic gas was found near the sinkhole. Officials say it took Texas Brine almost 24 hours before the company told them about the discovery.

Texas Brine found hydrogen sulfide gas, which is poisonous, on Monday, Nov. 19 while drilling into the cap rock near the hole. The gas could cause respiratory problems if inhaled. However, there is no immediate threat to the community at this time.

Emergency officials say Texas Brine did not do its job to warn officials.

"It should not occur," John Boudreaux, Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Prepardness, said. "It should be immediate notification of something this serious to all these agencies. They have a legal responsibility to do something. It's in state law to make an immediate notification when you are dealing with an extremely hazardous substance."

Parish leaders say Texas Brine needs to be an open book when it comes to the sinkhole situation. They say the parish will continue keeping a close eye on what's happening there.

Meantime, residents of Bayou Corne are just as upset. They say somebody should have warned them about the danger lurking yards away from their homes.

The mood in Bayou Corne is feverish. Those who remain in the community don't know how to take the news of toxic gas found near the sinkhole. They say Texas Brine is holding back information that could save their lives, and keeping parish leaders in the dark. People are scared to stay at home at night for fear of something else happening.

"This is home," Kenneth Simoneaux, Bayou Corne resident, said. "This is where you are supposed to be relaxed - homebase. Quality of life here is destroyed. They've robbed us of that."

"We don't need monitors in our house if they aren't going to let us know nothing," Henry Welch, another resident, added.

Texas Brine found toxic gas yards away from their homes, but no one in the community was notified until almost a day later.

"They should notify us that they got a problem. They [parish leaders] can't save our lives if they don't get notified," said Welch.

"Not surprising not at all," Ernest Boudreaux, Jr., Bayou Corne resident, said.

News of the gas was another blow to a community that's already dealing with a massive sinkhole and bubbling on the bayou.

"It's hard to stand tall anymore," said Simoneaux. "It feels like your insides are being ripped out."

Now people who thought they would spend the rest of their lives living along the water have had to pack up and try to start over.

"Scared, I don't want to live here no more," said Welch. "Far as I'm concerned I'm through with this unless they're going to give me a written statement that it's never going to happen again."

Others plan to stay part time in the area and pray the gas problem doesn't grow.

"You decide to sell nobody is going to buy you can't give it away," said Boudreaux.

"Start over good God I'm too old to start over, you know," said Simoneaux. "I can't even wrap my head around the concept of starting over."

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They were WARNED months ago. They were told to EVACUATE. They get $875 a WEEK to pay rent/expenses elsewhere until the issue can be resolved. There's NO reason for anyone to be living in the evacuated area. Constant complaining only prevents the people who SHOULD be there from effectively doing their job. Stop their $875/wk, they'll be out quick. My family didn't want to leave either but our life was more important than 4 walls & a roof. Can't enjoy any of it if you're dead. Get out!

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