Texas Brine Company began drilling in Assumption Parish near the sinkhole on Saturday to determine the cause. They estimate it will take about forty days to drill down to their cavern and find out what’s happening. The sinkhole remains unchanged since Friday morning.
Bubbles in nearby bayous are natural gas. Texas Brine Company was not storing natural gas in the cavern that is suspected to have collapsed. Pipelines in the area have been drained and shut down as a precaution.
Texas Brine Company is giving out evacuee assistance checks. They started this week and will compensate those who moved out as early as August 3.
Worst Case Scenario
Crosstex Energy owns two caverns near the Texas Brine Company’s cavern. One is filled with brine and poses no risk to public health. The other cavern contains butane. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) asked Crosstex to complete a worst case scenario analysis of the cavern containing butane.
A worst case scenario analysis is performed as part of the EPA’s requirements, but the Louisiana DEQ requested another with the consideration of a collapse of the cavern. Crosstex replied that the depth and pressures of the cavern keeps the butane from returning to the surface without pumping.
The storage cavern owned by Crosstex is further into the center of the salt dome, and therefore more stable. Texas Brine Company cavern is near the edge of the salt dome. It’s possible the edge of the dome was unsound. We won’t know for sure for forty days.