Radiation from Louisana Sinkhole 15 Timers Over Limit
The boiling, the gas-belching bayou in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, isn’t a mystery anymore. Residents aren’t finding any comfort in knowing the mystery which forced them out of their homes has been solved.
Assumption Parish is 45 miles south of Baton Rouge. The parish has all the charms and curses of Southern Louisiana. Bayous, lined with trees heavy with Spanish moss, flow into the Mississippi River as it strolls to the Gulf of Mexico. Fisherman and farmers live in Assumption Parish. So does the oil and gas industry.
The disaster’s early warning sign was the ghostly appearance of bubbles in the bayous in April 2012. For months residents wonder why the water seemed to be boiling.
Next came earthquakes. Small at first, but big enough that some residents said their homes’ position had shifted. A community desperate for answers was shaken by the tremors. Investigators from the state figured the bubbles were caused by a single source of natural gas. They were wrong.
One summer night, the earth below the Bayou Corne opened up and swallowed acres of swamp forest. The sinkhole filled itself with water, underground brine, and oil and natural gas. The massive sinkhole continued to grow and now covers 8 acres.
Louisiana’s then-Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state emergency. Assumption officials order the evacuation of 300 residents. Christ came, and officials continued to tell residents that no one knew when they may be able to return home. Some chose to ignore the order and have remained. The neighborhood is quiet and almost vacant.
The Bayou Corne sinkhole is unmatched as an environmental disaster. Geologists have never dealt with anything similar before. The sinkhole has made very few headlines beyond the region. “No-news-might-be-good-news” is how New York primary care physician sees the situation.
A Houston-based drilling company, Texas Brine has for years worked an underground salt cavern on the edge of large salt formations deep below where the sinkhole lives.
State officials believe that Texas Brine’s cavern, located below Bayou Corne collapsed from the side. The pressure in the cavern was too much and triggered a “frack out.” Brine and other liquids were forced out of the salt cavern and fractured rock nearer the surface. The ground simply gave way.
No Place Like Home
Nick Romero is a retired postal worker from Baton Rouge. Romero moved to Assumption Parish to live next to the bayous.
“Until May 30 when they reported the bubbles, everything here was great,” Romero told reporters. Romero, who owns a small boathouse on the bayou behind his house, used to enjoy fishing.
“The fishing was wonderful!” said Romero. “I could go, and if they didn’t bite, I could go back to what I was doing.” It’s been a while since Romero went fishing. “Since the sinkhole, you don’t know what may happen next,” he said.
Stanley Waligora, a radiation protection consultant and authority of the health risks of naturally occurring radioactive material, has verified that radium levels at Bayou Corne’s sinkhole are not within the accepted limits of safety. Roughly 15 times higher than the acceptable levels and state officials are still maintaining the levels are “below hazardous levels.”
The report about radium is buried in a poorly written state news release and “goes out of its way to downplay the results,” said Waligora.
Waligora, who has served time as a nuclear weapons officer in the American military and has taught, consulted and provided expert testimony in radiation litigation for almost five decades.
“We are witnessing our worst nightmares come true,” Romero said. “It’s time for the EPA and other authorities to step in and make sure proper testing is accomplished.”
The Bayou Corne sinkhole is not going anywhere. Texas Brine has made it clear there is no magic fix.