On August 2, 2012, a salt dome operated by the petrochemical company Texas Brine collapsed near Bayou Corne, Louisiana, creating an acre-wide sinkhole that forced the entire town to evacuate. Since then it has expanded to over 24 acres and is estimated to be 750 feet deep. While it’s well-known that the sinkhole occasionally swallows up nearby trees, no one has ever captured this terrifying sight on camera…until now.
Not only does this monster sinkhole swallow trees, every few weeks it “burps” up between 20-100 barrels of crude oil. It has also unlocked an underground reserve of natural gas, which has seeped beneath nearby houses and could potentially cause dangerous explosions. A year after it first appeared, the sinkhole shows no signs of slowing down as it continues to expand.
This isn’t the first time a salt dome has been the site of a man-made disaster. Methane leaks in similar underground caverns have forced residents out of towns in Louisiana and Texas — and in Hutchinson, Kansas, a 2001 cavern leak cause an explosion that killed two people. These aren’t simply tragic accidents, they are the accepted results of modern mining techniques.
Earlier this August, the state of Louisiana filed a lawsuit against Texas Brine for the environmental damage caused by the sinkhole. A federal class-action lawsuit has also been filed against the company by the residents who have been affected by the collapse. For now, Texas Brine has offered to buy out the properties of 92 different households that have been affected — an offer that about half the families have taken up.
Photos via Assumption Parish Police Jury