Louisiana Governor: Texas Brine Agrees to Sinkhole Buyouts

March 14, 2013

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says a Texas company blamed for the sinkhole that formed after the collapse of an underground salt cavern has agreed to provide settlement offers, which include buyouts, to the residents of the Bayou Corne community in Assumption Parish who were forced to evacuate the area as a result of the massive sinkhole.

Houston-based Texas Brine mined brine from the salt cavern and piped it to nearby petrochemical facilities. Many of the more than 350 residents forced to evacuate have been away from their homes since August 2012.

In mid-February 2013 the sinkhole was reported to have grown to an estimated 7,500 square feet.

Area residents say the sinkhole has reduced property values and caused insurance companies to cancel their policies.

Jindal joined local officials and legislators from Assumption Parish at a meeting with Texas Brine officials on March 13, after which the governor announced the settlement agreement. Jindal also announced the formation of a Blue Ribbon Commission to help ensure long-term safety in the Bayou Corne community.

“More than 350 lives have been uprooted by the Bayou Corne sinkhole. For months, our administration has been pressuring Texas Brine to step up to the plate and do the right thing for the residents of Bayou Corne. Texas Brine is responsible for the sinkhole, and we’ve remained committed to holding them accountable,” Jindal said in the announcement.

State officials are concerned about the stability of a second Texas Brine salt dome cavern in the area, as well.

“Regarding the concerns with the second Texas Brine salt dome cavern—according to the Department of Natural Resources, there are no data at this time to suggest a failure is occurring or that a failure is imminent. But, we are not taking anything for granted,” Jindal said.

The governor said he will travel to the area next week to “review the ongoing response to the sinkhole and also review progress on the contingency plan” for the second salt dome cavern.

The state has billed Texas Brine more than $3.5 million and incurred a total cost of nearly $8 million for sinkhole response efforts, the governor said, but the state has not received any reimbursement.

Assumption Parish billed the company 480,000 and has been reimbursed by $265,000. The Assumption Parish Sheriff’s office has billed Texas Brine for $340,000 and been reimbursed by $190,000, according to the governor’s announcement.

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