Sinkhole clean up halted as it pulls in more land

BAYOU CORNE (AP) — Cleanup of a sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish has been indefinitely halted after another section of land collapsed, pulling down at least five trees along the southwest side of the four-acre depression.

Parish officials told The Advocate a portion of the sinkhole edge, about 50-foot-long, went under Tuesday near pipeline corridors that run along the western edge of the slurry hole.

The sinkhole, which was found Aug. 3, is on Texas Brine Co. of Houston property south of La. 70 South between Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne. Parish officials evacuated 150 homes the day the sinkhole emerged. The evacuation remains in place.

Work to remove vegetation, muck and diesel-range hydrocarbons floating in the slurry hole was halted in mid-August after a previous edge collapse threatened two workers. Cleanup resumed Oct. 1, but crews had been making headway recently. Texas Brine said last week more than half of the debris had been removed.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and Texas Brine Co. have said the periodic collapses are expected as the hole's edges find a stable slope and the hole becomes shallower.

John Boudreaux, director of the parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said the collapse was seen about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday by workers cleaning up the sinkhole.

No one was on boats in the water at the time and no one was injured, he said. The workers were loading debris collected from the sinkhole into containers to be later rolled off the site, he said.

The collapse affected land 10 feet in from the former sinkhole edge. That means roughly 500 square feet of earth went under.

Other collapses have affected larger sections of edge.

Gas in the pipelines along the sinkhole has already been removed. Boudreaux said a line of trees still stands between the newly collapsed area and the pipeline corridor.