POSTED: Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 9:30am
UPDATED: Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 4:20pm
ASSUMPTION PARISH, LA (NBC33) — UPDATE: During cleanup activities this morning, an additional 50’ feet of property on the SW side of the site fell into the sinkhole.
Two cleanup workers in a boat, which was tied to a tree in that area, were rescued via airboat and shortly thereafter, their boat sunk into the sinkhole. All workers have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported.
At the present time, clean up operations at the site have been suspended. The Assumption Parish Police Jury reports today that the sinkhole has grown by about 20 feet this week.
ORIGINAL STORY: The sinkhole first developed last Friday near Bayou Corne and it bent a pipeline that had to shut down LA-70 for part of the weekend. An abandoned salt cavern is being eyed as possibly being to blame for the sinkhole’s origins.
That cavern was abandoned by the Texas Brine Company in 2011. Today, in Gonzales, Texas Brine officials tried to explain their position to those residents who were forced to evacuate from Bayou Corne, and pledged to help get them back into their homes as soon as possible.
"We are as shocked as they are and as concerned as they are,” Mark Cartwright, Texas Brine representative, said. “We're doing everything we can to expedite and lift that evacuation. We understand the inconvenience and we want to get them in their homes."
Also this afternoon, the state responded in a big way to Assumption Parish at a press conference in Bayou Corne. Officials say they've given Texas Brine orders to drill a relief well near the cavern to explore and answer more questions about the structural integrity surrounding the cavern. They have until Monday to submit a permit for approval to drill that well or face daily fines of $5-thousand.
"As parish leaders, time for all of us to stand together and stand strong and hold Texas Brine's feet to the fire," Sheriff Mike Waguespack, Assumption Parish, said.
"We want them here tomorrow to drill the well,” Col. Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police, said. “We want them as quickly as possible and as safely as possible."
State officials went on to say they'll be in the parish every day until everyone impacted can get back home safely.