Company to pad fund to aid residents near Assumption Parish sinkhole

Company to pad fund to aid residents near Assumption Parish sinkhole by The Associated Press, August 11, 2012, The Times-Picayune
Mark Cartwright, president of United Brine Services, a subsidiary of Texas Brine Co., said Friday the company spent the last week “intensely focused” on an emergency response as they try to figure out the cause behind a sinkhole near Bayou Corne. Cartwright said they’ll be drilling a relief well to investigate a brine cavern they own, which is housed within the Napoleonville salt dome. It will take at least 40 days to drill the well, and scientists have speculated that the 372-foot-wide and 422-foot-deep sinkhole might be related to structural problems within the cavern, he said. “Our efforts are going to be more focused on diagnostics, and looking into what caused this event,” Cartwright said at a press conference in Gonzales. … Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh had ordered the company to drill a well and investigate the salt cavern and “further evaluate potential causes of the subsidence near its well site,” as well as obtain samples of cavern content. Cartwright said the company was just as shocked as anyone else when the sinkhole erupted, swallowing up an acre of bald cypress trees and leaving diesel fumes and slurry water in its wake. … Cartwright said they never thought their salt cavern, which was plugged and abandoned in 2011 and isn’t used to store natural gas, would be behind the gas bubbles and tremors. But seismic readings from the U.S. Geological Survey were able to narrow down the concentration of the earthquakes to the western edge of the dome, which is where the Texas Brine salt cavern lies.

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