(NaturalNews) A large sinkhole that has been expanding in size since it first developed last summer is continuing to cause problems in Louisiana's southern swamplands. New reports indicate that toxic gas is now building up in large pockets underneath at least two homes near the Bayou Corne sinkhole in Louisiana's Assumption Parish, which has prompted officials to expand their monitoring efforts throughout the area.
On April 3, WLOX 13 News in southern Mississippi reported that local contractors identified the presence of gas underneath the slabs of two homes located on Sauce Piquante Lane in Bella Rose near Bayou Corne. Their discovery was later confirmed by Texas Brine Company, LLC, the largest independent brine producer in the U.S. and the company responsible for pumping butane, radioactive waste, and other toxins into underground caverns linked to triggering the sinkhole.
"I want to leave, and Texas Brine needs to buy my family out," said Jennifer Gregoire, a local resident who has had to install air monitors in her house to detect the presence of toxic gas fumes. Like many of her neighbors, Gregoire has also had to have holes drilled in her floors in order to search for possible gases underneath her foundation. "I'm sitting on the couch, clinching the dog ... [thinking] we're about to just go up in flames," she added.
As we reported recently, the Bayou Corne sinkhole, which is receiving minimal media attention on the national scale, appeared roughly nine months ago near the Napoleonville salt domes. The sinkhole has been steadily increasing in size ever since, and just a few weeks ago ate up another three acres of land, expanding its massive size to over 13 acres as of April 5.
Expert panel established to deal with unprecedented sinkhole crisis
Following a much-too-late visit to the sinkhole by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently, Texas Brine announced that it would begin buying out residents living near the sinkhole, according to NOLA.com. Since that time, at least 87 homeowners living near Bayou Corne have submitted the required forms necessary to begin the buyout process.
A more recent update on the sinkhole issued by NOLA.com explains that a 13-member commission of industry experts and scientists from around the world has been assembled to discuss mitigation approaches. At least 350 local residents have already been forcibly evacuated from the area, and the sinkhole is showing no apparent signs of slowing its ongoing feast of the earth's surface.
"We don't have years to study this," said Gary Hecox, a hydrologist and geographical information systems analyst from a Texas-based energy infrastructure company, and one of the committee members, at a recent meeting to discuss the issue. "We have to get on with the program. In the history of mankind there's never been anything like this."
You can view up-to-the-minute updates on the sinkhole by visiting the Bayou Corne Sinkhole Facebook page: