A potentially explosive and radioactive sinkhole near Assumption Parish, Louisiana has led local authorities to order a mass evacuation.
After the now 400 feet deep hole was discovered on August 3, the mayor of the town ordered between 100 and 150 households to vacate their homes. The same day, Gov. Bobby Jindal issued a declaration of emergency.
Bubbling water in the sinkhole and in nearby areas, where there has been oil and gas exploration in the past, led authorities to believe that it might have caused the release of radioactive material. While state tests did not detect radiation, a nearby road, Highway 70, was ordered shut after officials discovered the sinkhole caused a 36 inch natural gas pipeline to bend, heightening concerns that explosions might occur. To make the situation even more combustible, the hole neighbors a well containing more than a million gallons of liquid butane, a highly flammable vapor.
Officials hypothesize that the spontaneous depression was caused by the collapse of a defunct cavern owned by Texas Brine Company. On Saturday, the mining outfit agreed to authorities’ demands to offer relief to victims “After Pressure from State and Local Officials,” according to a press release from the Governor’s Office.It also pledged to help investigate the structural integrity of the mine linked to the disaster. Drilling equipment is expected to arrive in the next few days, according to company president Mark Cartwright, and testing is expected to begin soon thereafter. But it might take the company 40 days to get into the cavern.
Residents are infuriated that the situation has put them at risk caused them to uproot temporarily.
“We want to know when we can come home and be safe,” one local woman told Texas Brine officials at a community meeting on Tuesday, according to ABCNews. “Because you all go home after a days work. You’re safe, but we’re not.”