Radioactive Sinkhole Grows in Louisiana

Friday, August 09, 2013
Bayou Corne sinkhole (photo: Bayou Corne Sinkhole, Facebook)

One year after a foul-smelling sinkhole containing radioactive elements first appeared in rural Louisiana, the swampy mess is still growing, and so are the frustrations of local residents who were forced from their homes.


On August 3, 2012, a wooded area around Bayou Corne, south of Baton Rouge, dissolved into liquefied muck from oil and natural gas that was 422 feet deep and 372 feet wide.


Now, the sinkhole has grown to 24 acres.


The state of Louisiana and local residents are suing Texas Brine Company LLC for the environmental damage caused by the massive sinkhole, which materialized after a salt dome cavern operated by the company collapsed.


Scientists say Texas Brine mined too closely inside a salt dome cavern, reaching the outer face of an underground salt deposit.


Soon after the discovery of the sinkhole last year, the local sheriff ordered those living in nearby Bayou Corne to evacuate their homes. About two-thirds of the residents have now accepted buyouts, while others are fighting the company in court.


Lead plaintiff Dianne Sanchez claims in her new complaint that the sinkhole is radioactive, saying the defendants “had used the cavern as a deposit area for naturally occurring radioactive material arising from drilling into two defendant-owned salt caverns, including the one breached in the Bayou Corne area.”


Another worry is the presence of methane gas. But experts have disagreed on how much of the flammable gas may be in the sinkhole and how long it will take to remove it.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Class Claims Giant Sinkhole Is Growing (by Sabrina Canfield, Courthouse News Service)

One Year Later: Bayou Corne Sinkhole Still a Mystery (by David Mitchell, Baton Rouge Advocate)

Louisiana Suing Texas Brine over Bayou Corne Sinkhole (by Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press)

Radioactive Sinkhole Forces Evacuation of 150 Homes (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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