Steps ordered to hold down risk at Bayou Corne

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The state has ordered new steps to minimize risk of exposure to natural gas under property where a large

sinkhole formed in August in Assumption Parish.

The Louisiana Office of Conservation on Monday issued the new round of directives to Texas Brine Co. LLC, which had operations

at an underground salt cavern, where it extracted brine for nearby petrochemical facilities.

The state says data shows the sinkhole is linked to the collapse of a side wall in the cavern.

Texas Brine has been ordered to install a network of observation wells and pressure monitoring wells in the area. Conservation

Commissioner James Welsh also ordered Texas Brine to install in-home methane detectors and upgrade ventilation systems for

slab-foundation homes and buildings in the area where underground gas has accumulated.

"The steps outlined in this directive will

give us an added layer of protection in ensuring public safety and move

the response

effort closer to bringing the lives of the residents of the Bayou

Corne area back to normal," Welsh said in a news release.

About 350 area residents are under an evacuation order.

Welsh said the additional requirements are

based on analysis by the Office of Conservation and consultants with

Shaw Environmental

and Infrastructure of conditions where natural gas pressure has

been detected. Welsh said that monitoring of slab-based structures

in the area has shown no accumulation of natural gas in homes.