BAYOU CORNE — A Texas Brine Co. LLC contractor resumed drilling a well to see whether an abandoned company salt dome cavern may have caused a sinkhole in Assumption Parish, state officials said Friday.
Drilling was halted and workers and authorities working around and monitoring the site secured equipment and fled Sunday and Monday as then-Hurricane Isaac took aim at southeast Louisiana.
The sinkhole was found Aug. 3 in swamps between the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou areas south of La. 70 South. The hole has grown in size since Aug. 3, but it has not grown since the storm, parish and Texas Brine officials have said.
Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh said in a news release that Texas Brine’s rig operator, Riceland Drilling Co. of Lafayette, returned Thursday and its personnel resumed drilling shortly before noon Friday.
Before they left Monday, Riceland Drilling workers had bored about 600 feet into the ground and cemented a surface casing from 600 feet deep up to the surface to maintain well integrity, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources officials said.
Texas Brine officials said in a news release Friday that about 100 feet of caprock remain before the drilling bit reaches the salt dome. The cavern inside the salt dome starts at 3,400 feet underground.
Sonny Cranch, a Texas Brine spokesman, said 152 weekly housing assistance checks amounting to $875 each were issued Friday. Retroactive payments will be made next week to evacuated residents, he said.
Assumption Parish officials said in a blog post that their mobile command post returned to its site Friday. Other state agencies are expected back, and operations will begin again Tuesday.