People living near sinkhole concerned drilling relief well may not solve problem

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 12:00pm

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources says they've approved a permit for a relief well in Assumption Parish, but the concerns continue near Bayou Corne. We're learning it could take weeks for that drilling to be complete, which means it could be at least a month before many forced out of their homes are allowed back in.

"All of a sudden no one was checking the swamps and a big sinkhole came in," said resident Kenneth Landry.

Kenneth Landry and his family live on a house boat on the bayou, and for over a week Landry's spent the time waiting trying to figure out if his family is safe. He's scared continued bubbling on the bayou coupled with drilling a relief well could cause more problems for the community.

"If that is another sinkhole then all of a sudden this bayou empty within a few minutes so does my house boat sit here, or does it break, or does me and the house boat go down in the sinkhole," said Landry.

This week the Texas Brine L.L.C. will bring in materials to drill a relief well near the sinkhole. Once assembled officials with the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness say it will take weeks before they get any answers from the drilling company.

"That's 40 days to get into the cavern," said Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness Director John Boudreaux. "Once they are in the cavern they have to do additional tests to see what's the condition of that cavern. "

Dennis Landry lives and works off the bayou he's concerned that drilling won't be enough to settle the bubble and sinkhole situation.

"Once the drilling is complete they reach the cavern that might not be the answer to all of our problems, because it's yet to be determined if the gas bubbling is coming from there or not," said Dennis Landry.

Residents say they're frustrated their bayou paradise remains in a state of uncertainty.

"Instead of waking up and having coffee on the warf in the morning seeing an alligator a heron seeing an eagle pass by; we wake up to the sounds of air boats and helicopters taking off," said Dennis Landry. "Life has changed. It's not quiet like it was."

Parish officials say the evacuation order will remain in place until scientist say it's safe for people to return to the area. Those who stayed say they just want things to return to normal.

"A lot of questions have to be answered, and a lot of scientist and a lot of really smart people are still kind of puzzled," said Dennis Landry.

The DNR said in a statement, "Welsh said his Office of Conservation staff and scientists from a team pulled together from inside and outside the state of Louisiana have identified the abandoned cavern in the Napoleonville Salt Dome as the most likely cause of the sinkhole that developed approximately 200 feet from the site of the old cavern on August 2, and indicated that it may also be linked to the reports of natural gas bubbling in the area of Bayou Corne. Mark Cartwright, president of Texas Brine, on Saturday informed state officials that the first deliveries of drilling equipment to the site to will arrive late Wednesday or early Thursday, with drilling to begin a few days later, once the rig is assembled and readied."


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