Bayou Corne residents continue to struggle with sinkhole issues

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 11:28am

The Assumption Parish Police Jury passed a resolution Wednesday that requests the Texas Brine Company buy out property owners who want to leave their homes permanently and to compensate those who want to stay.

Officials have not sent the request to the company just yet, but a spokesman with the Texas Brine says they're not ready to talk buyouts at this point. The spokesman said it's time to focus on fixing the problems in Bayou Corne.

Every day residents wait to find out what will happen with their homes as the value of the property drops.

"If they paid me my property value right now they wouldn't have to pay me much," Henry Welch, Bayou Corne Resident, said. "I don't have any property value here, since their stuff started up."

Welch along with dozens of other residents have spent the past four months in a camper trailer. Now, He's ready to move on.

"This is getting old. People have had enough," exclaimed Welch. "I want to be bought out. I don't want to live here any more."

Welch said the proposed plan is a small step to help homeowners who want to leave. He worries Texas Brine won't agree and it could be months, even years before they see any relief.

"They made millions and billions of dollars, and now they can't come up and step up to the plate and help the communities. I don't think to much of them," Welch expressed.

"Texas Brine has gotten off the hook since this whole thing started," John Achee, Bayou Corne property owner, said. "It's been a slap on the wrist for Texas Brine. No one has really enforced them to do anything. They've basically done what they wanted to do."

People living in the area say the state needs to step up, and they want to see stronger action from officials, including Governor Bobby Jindal coming down to Bayou Corne.

"We would like to see our governor. Where has he been since all this has started. I mean this has been going on for six months. People have been evacuated for four months. We haven't seen the governor. We haven't heard from him," Achee stated. "It's like a circus without a ring leader, literally."

The La Office of Conservation fined Texas Brine $100 thousand for failing to meet state orders to protect the area. The agency's commissioner says the company responsible for creating this sinkhole in Assumption Parish failed to meet several deadlines.

James Welsh says the company owes $80 thousand for not installing protection around the sinkhole to prevent pollutants from spreading into area waterways, and a $10 thousand fine for failing to install gas monitoring equipment in nearby homes with concrete slabs, plus another $10 thousand dollars for not starting work on 2 new vent wells.

Texas Brine told NBC33 they are working with the Office of cCnservation to complete the required task specified in a Nov. 12 order. They say prior to receiving notice of the fines the company was moving as fast as it could to meet deadlines. They say the company ran into issues with obtaining homeowner permission and land owner permission to install monitors and vent wells.

Those living near the sinkhole say Texas Brine is moving to slow and jeopardizing their safety.

"Why [can't Texas Brine move quicker] if we got so much gas that we to have a monitor in our home with us not even living here, and they want to put monitors in our yards in and in our homes. I think that's dangerous," said Welch.

Residents say the fines won't do much. Instead, they want the state to pull the plug on Texas Brine's permits.

"The only way you are going to see action is if the state steps up and suspends all permits in the state of Louisiana, not just here not just on this dome, the entire state," Achee believes. "Get rid of them."

Some residents are so frustrated they are ready to call in the feds if the state can't do the job.

"Our president, I'm not to far from calling him and trying to set up a date with him and see if he can come help us," Welch replied.

"People are tired of this. We have absolutely had enough. This is not the way it should be," Achee said. "We have a company out of Houston, Texas making a mockery out of the state of Louisiana. It's a shame."

The next public meeting for Bayou Corne resident is scheduled for Dec. 18 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Pierre Part.


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