August 10th, 2012
07:48 PM ET

Massive Louisiana sinkhole widening, swallowing 100-foot trees

A Louisiana sinkhole that is 324 feet in diameter and reaches as deep as 422 feet in one corner continues to grow and caused evacuations today. Officials believe an underground salt cavern is the reason the hole opened up and swallowed 100-foot-tall cypress trees.

The hole first came to attention a week ago when residents noticed bubbles in the water of the southern Louisiana bayou. Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack said he is worried that the hole may contain 1.5 million barrels of liquid butane, which is a highly volatile liquid. It becomes an extremely flammable vapor upon release.

Texas Brine Company, which mines the cavern, is investigating to see if the circumstances are indeed dangerous. Local residents say the Department of Natural Resources has known for months that the Texas Brine well had integrity problems.

CNN's Ed Lavendara reports.

Louisiana probes cause of massive bayou sinkhole

Louisiana officials are investigating whether an underground salt cavern may be responsible for a large sinkhole that has swallowed 100-foot-tall cypress trees and prompted evacuations in a southern Louisiana bayou.

The state's Department of Natural Resources ordered Texas Brine Company, which mines the cavern, to drill a well into the cavern to see whether it caused the dark gray slurry-filled hole nearby.

Measurements taken Monday showed the sinkhole measures 324 feet in diameter and is 50 feet deep, but in one corner it goes down 422 feet, said John Boudreaux, director of the Office of Homeland Security in Assumption Parish, about 30 miles south of Baton Rouge.

Assumption Parish police said Thursday the sinkhole has since grown another 10 to 20 feet.


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