Homes evacuated near bayou in Louisiana: Officials fear giant sinkhole pipeline explosion
(Aug 5) Powerful underground forces unleashed by the formation of an acre-sized swampland sinkhole in South Louisiana bayou country near the Gulf of Mexico had bent and shifted an adjacent 36-inch natural gas pipeline under Highway 70, posing an explosion risk to nearby motorists. As a result, they are closing the highway due to the explosion risk so the company that owns the pipeline can safely depressurize all the lines in the area.
The big sinkhole swallowed and toppled trees overnight Thursday, turning the formerly forested patch of swamp into a watery mud flat flecked with bits of green foliage and tree tops peeking out of the dark-brown muck. Fearing the slurry area could widen farther and threaten nearby wells storing flammable hydrocarbons, the massive methane-leaking sinkhole caused the mandatory evacuation of 150 families.
The formation of the slurry area was accompanied early Friday by a diesel-like odor that some residents said burned their eyes and noses but dissipated by midmorning. For weeks, state scientists with the Department of Natural Resources investigating mysterious tremors and bubbles rising to the surface of Bayou Corne.
The agency tasked with protecting the public from environmental hazards has reversed its stand on continuing to provide its monitoring data of the Louisiana’s near Gulf Coast bayou area where gasses are bubbling and tremors shook houses Thursday. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says ‘no threat’ but withholds monitoring data of evacuated area leaking methane. They have stopped providing monitoring data to the public on the event website.
“I don’t believe a word they say about the environmental or human health risk of this mounting disaster,” New Orleans-based environmental attorney Stuart Smith stated Saturday, August 4, 2012.