Tag Archive for 'texas brine'

This Sinkhole Sucked Down 11 Barges Like They Were Rubber Duckies

Photo retrieved from: www.motherjones.com

“Lake Peigneur, the site of one of the state’s most spectacular industrial disasters in 1980, kept coming up in my conversations with residents of Bayou Corne, the Cajun community in south Louisiana that has been evacuated for more than a year due to a massive, mining-induced sinkhole that now spans 24 acres—and is still growing. Last week, the state filed suit against Texas Brine and Occidental Chemical Company for damages relating to the disaster. (Read my story on Bayou Corne, which appears in the September/October issue of Mother Joneshere.) So on a sticky Sunday morning in June, I crossed over the Atchafalaya spillway to see the place for myself.

In November of 1980, in the process of generating revenue for (of all things) an environmental cleanup fund, a Texaco oil rig accidentally punctured the top of a salt mine situated beneath the lake. The water above emptied into the mine, creating a whirlpool that sucked 11 barges into the caverns below, turned the lake from freshwater to saline, and caused the Delcambre Canal to flow backwards. Three days later, nine of the 11 barges “popped up like iron corks,” the Associated Press reported; the other two were never found. Miraculously, all 55 workers who were inside the mine at the time of the accident managed to escape.

The disaster caused drilling in Lake Peigneur to cease—at least for a time. The lake showed signs of recovering from its industrial past after that, although it was several hundred feet deeper and stocked with a new species of fish that could live in the saltwater ecosystem. But industry slowly began to creep back.”

Read more: Mother Jones