Nearly 150 residences in Louisiana were asked to evacuate their homes on Monday after a 400-foot deep sinkhole swallowed nearby trees. Officials believe the sinkhole could give off radiation or cause explosions that would harm local residents. The sinkhole opened up on August 3 and forced the closure of nearby highway 70 after a gas line along that route bent and led to fears of an explosion.
The sinkhole developed in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, just 50 miles south of Baton Rouge.
Most residents have chosen to stay in their homes however officials at the Mayor’s office have promised to create a forced evacuation scenario should the sinkhole continue to spread.
Officials believe the sinkhole may be the result of a salt cavern owned by the Texas Brine Company. The salt mine was plugged in 2011 after 30 years of use. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources last Thursday demanded that Texas Brine drill a well to investigate the integrity of the salt cavern and supply officials with daily reports. The drilling process will take at least 10 days to setup.
Speaking to ABC News’ Baton Rouge affiliate WBRZ a Texas Brine spokesman said of the situation:
“We have to arrange for the driller. We have to pick a location. We have to be very careful to not be in a point that’s too close to the sinkhole because of the weight of the rig. We don’t want to aggravate the situation.”
The spokesman continues:
“There are some indications that it very well may have been connected, but there’s just indications,” Cranch said. “There’s nothing concrete that has connected the sinkhole to the cavern.”
Yahoo News notes:
“There was bubbling in the water and the sinkhole is near areas where there has been exploration for oil and gas in the past, which would make the presence of low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) possible.”
Initial readings taken by state testers have not revealed any initial radiation.