State’s expert to share assessment of sinkhole

The Louisiana Office of Conservation’s hired expert is expected to provide his initial assessment at 6 p.m. Tuesday of critical seismic data collected earlier this year around the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole, officials said Monday.

The state office ordered Texas Brine Co. to collect seismic data to understand what was happening under the sinkhole and identify the original sources of the gas believed lurking in an aquifer and in shallower soils under the Bayou Corne community.

Scientists think a Texas Brine salt dome cavern failed, setting in motion subterranean events that caused the sinkhole Aug. 3, unleashed methane from natural gas pockets and forced a continuing evacuation order nearly a year old.

The expert, Don Marlin, who is scheduled to attend a community meeting at the Assumption Community Center, 4910 La. 308, Napoleonville, had been expected to share his interpretation in mid-June.

Patrick Courreges, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said Monday the process took more time as Marlin consulted with other experts.

“The whole point we have, is while we obviously want the answers as quickly as they can be gotten, to take the actions as quickly as we can, more important is that they be right,” Courreges said.

Texas Brine’s hired experts have suggested that their own data indicates conditions were far less severe than first feared. However, that view was greeted skeptically by some residents and environmentalists who called for an independent analysis.