Letter: Company sees sinkhole progress

As most Advocate readers know, in August, 2012, a sinkhole formed on property operated by Texas Brine Co. in Grand Bayou, a location which our company has operated for over 40 years. Although there were no injuries or residential property damage, our company has been engaged in an extensive response program ever since.

Immediately following discovery of the sinkhole, TBC notified state officials and began responding to the incident. Booms were immediately deployed to contain materials associated with the sinkhole, while contractors were employed to remove hydrocarbon and debris. Virtually overnight, extensive air- and water-monitoring programs were implemented. After five months of testing by both TBC contractors and state officials, there has not been a single off-site air or water result above background levels.

As expected, the size of the sinkhole has grown from its original five acres to its present size of approximately nine acres. Studies by state and independent experts agree that little additional growth of the sinkhole is expected.

Although the sinkhole is approximately a half-mile away from the community of Bayou Corne, local officials exercised an abundance of caution and implemented a residential evacuation order. Acting in full compliance, TBC has been providing weekly housing subsidies totaling $2.7 million to all local residential families, whether they actually evacuated or not.

In compliance with a number of DNR orders, TBC is engaged in the following activities:

  • Efforts are under way to install in-home LEL (lower explosive limit) monitors in Bayou Corne. More than 70 homes have already been tested and no elevated levels have been detected.
  • Aquifer pressure-monitoring well and gas-relief well installations are under way. Four relief wells are safely venting natural gas from the affected aquifer. An additional five relief wells are being installed. In addition, monitoring wells are being installed to track gas pressure in the aquifer.
  • A comprehensive seismic study is under way, including a data review by a team of independent seismologists and geologists, working to ensure that the underground salt dome in the vicinity of the sinkhole is both stable and safe.
  • Additional seismic data is being generated in the form of vertical seismic profiles and three-dimension seismic runs. These seismic runs will give the data necessary to compare today’s conditions underground with presinkhole conditions.

We hope that through these efforts, local officials will soon have the data necessary to support lifting the mandatory evacuation order currently in place and that our local neighbors can regain some normality in their lives.

Bruce E. Martin, vice president, operations

Texas Brine Co., LLC

Houston, Texas