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Category: Sinkholes

Bay Area Storm Causes 2 Giant Sinkholes, Swallowing Roads

December 3, 2012 5:58 PM

LAFAYETTE (CBS SF) — Two giant sinkholes formed in separate Bay Area communities during the heavy rain from a powerful storm that passed through the Bay Area over the weekend.

In one instance, a giant sinkhole swallowed two lanes of a street in a residential neighborhood in Lafayette Sunday.

High water levels and a clogged storm drain in Lafayette Creek destroyed a portion of Mountain View Drive Sunday, creating a sinkhole where the road once was, Lafayette City Manager Steven Falk said.

Erosion of the road accelerated when the heavy current of the creek clogged the storm drain with large debris, including branches and a bureau, some time between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., Falk said.

A storm caused a 20-foot sinkhole to form along Mountain View Drive in Lafayette on December 2, 2012. (CBS)Water began to run over the top of the road, forcing its closure soon after. Around 3 p.m. Sunday, the road collapsed onto the storm drain and left a hole 80 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 15 feet deep, Falk said.

Utility agencies came out and shut off the gas and sewer lines that are below the road. East Bay Municipal Utilities District crews were still on scene at 2 p.m. Monday attempting to shut off the water line.

A handful of customers are still without water and one customer is without gas. PG&E has provided an alternate gas service for that one, Falk said.

 

Falk said the city’s plan is to convey the water temporarily across where the road was, and create a temporary storm drain that will handle all the water from whatever remaining storms there are this season.

Once that is completed, a team of civil engineers will create a plan to permanently fix the storm drain and road.

The collapse has left one home without access to its driveway but should not create a significant hardship to anyone in the area, Falk said.

The longest detour around the sinkhole is a block and a half, he said.

A second sinkhole opened up in the Santa Cruz mountains over the weekend as well.

 

SOURCE (videos also avaliable there):
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/12/03/bay-area-storm-causes-2-giant-sinkholes-swallowing-roads/

What’s all the fuss about fracking?

“Benzene, lead, mercury, toluene, uranium, methanol, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde and xylene are among the 750+ “ingredients” used in the chemical mix often pumped into wells some 8,000 feet underground.”

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SPOILER: Listen to this, ’cause I’m not gonna repeat it often:

THIS IS WHAT YOUR FUCKING ILL-MINDED GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN INJECTING ALL OVER THE NATURAL UNDERGROUND FISSURES THOROUGH THE ENTIRE U.S., YOU FUCKED TWAT!!!! 

WAKE UP, STUPID SHEEPLE, WE’RE TALKIN’ ‘BOUT REAL SHIT HERE!!!

THIS IS FREAKIN’ SERIOUS!!!

Please, fellow Americans, *PLEASE* WAKE UP BEFORE ‘TIS BUT TOO LATE FOR THE ENTIRE PLANET!!!!

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By David Quilty –
set 17, 2012

The state of Vermont in the US has banned it. The countries of France and Bulgaria have banned it too. What is it about fracking that has so many people up in arms but energy companies chomping at the bit to get involved?

fogo-agua

Short for hydraulic fracturing, fracking is a method of getting at hard-to-reach natural gas reserves deep underground. Massive amounts of sand, water and toxic chemicals are injected into shale rock layers via wells, inducing fractures which then release the contained natural gas. The gas comes up to the surface of the well in the wastewater where it is separated and stored. While that’s the simple explanation of fracking, at first glance it doesn’t read as being all that bad – at least not until you get into the nitty-gritty of the operation.

Between one and eight million gallons of water is used for each frack… With each natural gas well capable of being fracked 18 times, it could require 144,000,000 gallons of clean water to complete a job.

First, let’s talk about the water needed for fracking. Depending on how deep the well is and how difficult the gas is to get to, between 1 and 8 million gallons of water is used for each frack. With each natural gas well capable of being fracked 18 times, it could require a whopping 144,000,000 gallons of clean water to complete a job. As of 2010, there were nearly 700,000 underground waste and injection wells in the U.S. and one would imagine that number is a lot higher as of this year. Billions of gallons of water are being used to frack in the U.S. alone, never mind around the globe.

So, now we have established that fracking uses a lot of water: no one disputes that fact. Where it gets tricky, and where proponents and opponents of the technique take sides, is when the subject of the chemicals used in the process comes up. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used for each frack and while the industry is not required to release information on what substances they are using, it is known that many of them are volatile organic compounds and human carcinogens supposedly regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for their risks to human health. Benzene, lead, mercury, toluene, uranium, methanol, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde and xylene are among the 750+ “ingredients” used in the chemical mix often pumped into wells some 8,000 feet underground.

Since 2005, over 30 trillion gallons of these toxic chemicals have been injected deep into the Earth because of natural gas drilling. These chemicals have been linked to groundwater pollution, flammable tap water, localized earthquakes, assorted cancers, air pollution, and elevated levels of ground-level ozone. There are thousands of documented cases of respiratory and neurological damage from the consumption of contaminated water by residents living near natural gas wells. Of course, proponents of the technique say these links are overblown at best and probably not even likely. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disagrees as do many scientists and researchers.

As far back as 1987 the EPA released a report to Congress which stated that fracking could pollute groundwater and as recently as 2011 they released another report noting possible groundwater contamination in Pavilion, Wyoming, where fracking had taken place. In addition, a 2012 University of Texas study listed water contamination and adverse health effects as problems associated with shale gas development. Who should we trust to look into claims of environmental damages from fracking, industry insiders or environmental agencies? While they certainly aren’t perfect, I’ll go with the agencies.

Lately, several high-profile celebrities and groups are speaking out against fracking. Artists Against Fracking, started by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, is trying to stop the fracking of the Marcellus Shale in upstate New York by meeting with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in order to convince him to ban it. Currently the group has more than 180 artists and well-known celebrities as members – including Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney – fighting to keep fracking out of the state. Actor Mark Ruffalo has been a staunch opponent of fracking for many years, and Matt Damon’s next film, ‘Promised Land’, brings an anti-fracking message to theatres later this year. Sometimes celebrities get laughed off for their real-world concerns, but if it helps get the message out, who are we to complain?

Is it worth potentially destroying billions of gallons of clean water, worldwide drinking supplies, and the very soil we use to grow the food necessary for our survival all in the name of cheap natural gas? Wouldn’t our efforts be better served by serious investments in solar, wind, hydro, and other renewable energy technologies? According to estimates from the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has enough natural gas reserves to supply the country for the next 110 years. But what kind of planet would we be left with after 110 years of fracking?

SOURCE:
http://www.virgin.com/people-and-planet/blog/whats-all-the-fuss-about-fracking

Texas firm fined over sinkhole in Louisiana says it’s trying

“It has grown from less than one acre to eight acres. It has also become much shallower, from 490 to 195 feet at the deepest, Cranch said.”

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8:27 AM, Dec 3, 2012

 

BATON ROUGE — Owners of a failed brine storage cavern are doing their best to comply with a state order to quickly resolve problems caused by an eight-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish, spokesman Sonny Cranch said Sunday.

He said Texas Brine Co. lawyers will review a $100,000 fine imposed Saturday by state Conservation Commissioner James Welsh, who said the company hasn’t complied with his Nov. 12 order to speed work.

“We are working as fast as we can to comply with the order,” Cranch said in a phone interview.

The sinkhole began to develop after a Texas Brine salt cavern failed in August. Texas Brine and other companies own at least five other caverns in the Napoleon Salt Dome, which is about three miles long and a mile wide. None of the other caverns is threatened, Cranch said.

Welsh said the company is too slow in three areas: installing air monitors and improved ventilation in slab homes around the sinkhole; installing a system to prevent more waterway contamination; and drilling new vent wells to burn off natural gas.

Residents of 150 Bayou Corne-area homes evacuated in August, after the sinkhole formed. Natural gas was later found in the underground water supply, which Cranch said has never been used for drinking water.

It has grown from less than one acre to eight acres.

It has also become much shallower, from 490 to 195 feet at the deepest, Cranch said.

He said Texas Brine has been using containment boom and absorbent boom from the start, and has skimmed 2,700 barrels of oily water from the surface in the three months since debris was cleared from the edges of the sinkhole.

Cranch said figuring out how to permanently block the sinkhole from other waterways is complex in a swamp, especially since officials don’t yet know how big the sinkhole will get. In the meantime, crews move the boom constantly and skimming continues to make sure oil doesn’t get into any waterways, he said.

“It is being controlled,” Cranch said.

He said the company is also working to find ventilation equipment and air monitors that can be watched at another site, contractors qualified to install them correctly, and landowners’ permission to dig vent wells.

 

SOURCE:
http://www.thetowntalk.com/viewart/20121203/NEWS01/212030320/Texas-firm-fined-over-sinkhole-Louisiana-says-s-trying

Sinkhole Nearly Swallows Truck on Waller Street

by Andrew Dudley • Mon. Nov 26, 2012, 4:57 pm

A truck got stuck in a sinkhole on Waller Street between Scott and Divisadero this afternoon, and the street is now closed to traffic.

As of 4:30pm, the rear section of the Vac-Con truck was submerged under street level, while a giant crane worked to free the truck from its predicament. It didn’t appear that anyone was hurt in the incident.

No word on what caused the sinkhole, nor how long repairing the street might take, but if/when we hear from SFDPW we’ll update accordingly.

SOURCE:
http://haighteration.com/2012/11/sinkhole-nearly-swallows-truck-on-waller-street.html

Large sinkhole closes SR 516 in Dover

Posted: Nov 28, 2012 9:07 PM
Updated: Nov 29, 2012 1:30 PM

DOVER, OH (WOIO) – –

Wednesday afternoon, the Dover Fire Department responded to a report that the ground had shifted at Newton Asphalt Plant, 2411 State Route 516, causing a large sink hole.


The issue was called in by employees at Newton Asphalt.

The fire department says that State Route 516 is closed to traffic for an unknown period of time because the roadway is seriously compromised.

There were no injuries to report.

Dover Fire Captain Mike Mosser said that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, ODOT and the gas company are working to fix the problem.

The gas company has addressed an exposed gas line that is no longer a hazard to the surrounding community.

It is estimated that it will take a few weeks to repair.

Copyright 2012 WOIO. All rights reserved.

 

SOURCE:
http://www.19actionnews.com/story/20210648/sink-hole-on-state-rte-515

[video] Officials: “Event” has occurred at giant sinkhole — Surface appears covered in thick black oil

Title: Sinkhole Event
Source: Assumption Parish Police Jury
Date: Nov. 27, 2012 at 3:55p ET

An event occurred at the sinkhole around 11:30 pm today which is being considered as a “burp”. Vegetative debris and hydrocarbons came up from below the sinkhole. A few trees in the southwest corner did fall in however most of the debris came from below the sinkhole. Texas Brine removed all crews from the sinkhole and is checking the boom surrounding the area to make sure everything is in tact.

SOURCE: Energy News
http://enenews.com/breaking-officials-event-has-occurred-at-sinkhole-entire-surface-appears-covered-in-thick-black-oil-video

Louisiana Sinkhole: Radioactive material handling probed

“In August 1995, Texas Brine considered putting up to 20 cubic feet of NORM in an underground company cavern in the Napoleonville Dome and in another salt dome in Lafourche Parish, according to DEQ and state Office of Conservation records.”

 

BY DAVID J. MITCHELL
River Parishes bureau

November 27, 2012

State officials are investigating how Texas Brine Co. LLC handled naturally occurring radioactive material in Assumption Parish — where a large sinkhole was found Aug. 3 — and whether it was illegally disposed of inside the Napoleonville Dome in the mid-1990s.

The state Department of Environmental Quality confirmed last week that a 1979 state statute prohibited disposal of naturally occurring radioactive material in large underground salt deposits like the Napoleonville Dome until legislative changes in 1999 made such disposal legal.

“What we’re going to do is investigate this thing the best we can with the information from 1995 and move forward as appropriate,” DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett said.

In August 1995, Texas Brine considered putting up to 20 cubic feet of NORM in an underground company cavern in the Napoleonville Dome and in another salt dome in Lafourche Parish, according to DEQ and state Office of Conservation records.

The Office of Conservation did not object, but it is unclear if Texas Brine followed through on the plans.

Texas Brine officials, in a statement last week, said they did not put NORM in the caverns after making initial regulatory inquiries but it remains on site under a standing DEQ license.

“Since the concentration level of NORM was so low, and the amount of accumulated scale was so small, it was determined to leave the scale in place,” Texas Brine officials said in the statement, which came after the company was told that DEQ concluded NORM disposal in salt domes was illegal in 1995.

The statement contradicts detailed comments from company officials on Aug. 10 that a small amount of NORM was disposed of in the Napoleonville Dome with Office of Conservation approval but that it posed no risk to the public.

The processes involved with oil and gas drilling, along with a variety of other industrial processes such as brine production, can concentrate naturally occurring radioactive isotopes underground at widely varying levels, but sometimes can pose a risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Subsequent testing by DEQ and the EPA has shown that surface radiation in the Bayou Corne area, including in the sinkhole, is not above background levels and poses no risk, state officials have said.

In 1979, the state Legislature prohibited disposal of “radioactive waste or other radioactive material of any nature” in salt domes. The law, which took effect Jan. 1, 1980, arose during controversy over U.S. Department of Energy plans to put high-level radioactive waste, such as from nuclear power plants, in salt domes for long-term storage. Violation of the law includes a requirement to remove the radioactive material.

The salt dome ban for radioactive waste remains in effect, but, in 1999, the Legislature exempted oil and gas exploration and production wastes, which includes NORM, from the statutory definition of “radioactive waste,” DEQ officials said.

Prior to that change, NORM fell under the definition of “radioactive waste” and, therefore, was prohibited from salt dome disposal in 1995, DEQ officials said in an email.

DEQ and the state Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation have dual and sometimes overlapping regulatory authority when it comes to salt domes, oil and gas operations and other matters.

DEQ officials said NORM disposal in a salt dome or a well requires concurrence from DNR and DEQ.

In Aug. 31, 1995, letter, James Welsh, then director of the Office of Conservation’s Injection and Mining Division, gave Texas Brine a no objection letter for NORM disposal in a salt dome. Welsh is now commissioner of the Office of Conservation, which leads DNR’s oversight of the Texas Brine cavern failure.

DNR spokesman Patrick Courreges said the no objection letter for NORM disposal did not authorize its disposal in the salt dome because the Office of Conservation does not have regulatory authority.

“The letter communicated to the company that the Office of Conservation’s governing statutes and rules contained no prohibition for the activity and that the Office of Conservation did not regulate NORM activities,” Courreges wrote.

Courreges wrote that the Office of Conservation regulations apply to “the mechanics of safely operating the well and cavern” but NORM falls under DEQ regulations.

In a subsequent, Sept. 20, 1995, letter, Texas Brine Environmental, Health and Safety Manager Scott Whitelaw asked DEQ for authority to dispose of NORM in the salt dome caverns.

DEQ’s Mallett said that no formal denial letter is in agency records but telephone logs show that DEQ officials told the company it was not granting authority and to wait on disposal.

“In our records, they never asked again,” he said.

On Aug. 10 in Ascension Parish, Bruce Martin, vice president of Texas Brine operations, said a small amount of pipe scale had fallen outside of the Oxy Geismar No. 3 well head during workovers.

Scientists have said they believe the Napoleonville Dome cavern — now known as Oxy Geismar Well No. 3 — had a major wall failure that resulted in the sinkhole and in the release of oil and methane in the Grand Bayou and Bayou Corne areas, which have been evacuated.

Testing of the pipe scale found the dirt had a radioactivity of 20 to 40 micro-rems per hour, Martin said.

The standard at the time for specialized management of the NORM was above 20 micro-rems per hour, though that standard has since been raised to 50 micro-rems per hour, Martin said.

“So the end result is, we submitted a request to DNR to place this material, this normally occurring radioactive material, that was actually about a little bit less than a cubic yard, to place it back in the well where it came from, back into the earth,” Martin said.

“And DNR granted us that request. We did that work. That material was solid dirt, dirt with some NORM in it, and it was placed in the bottom of the well, and it would be my guess and firm belief that that’s where it sits today.”

Talking points distributed that day also said NORM was in the cavern and posed no risk.

Sonny Cranch, spokesman for Texas Brine, said last week that officials “misspoke” then in their attempt to respond to questions about NORM and that it was never put in the cavern.

 

 

SOURCE: The Advocate

Thousands of Natural Gas Leaks Found in Boston

by LiveScience Staff
Date: 21 November 2012 Time: 10:51 AM ET

 

Beneath the streets of Boston is an aging network of natural gas pipelines that delivers fuel to heat homes and power appliances but also threatens to feed fires and even cause explosions. Highlighting the need for repairs, a new study detected more than 3,300 natural gas leaks throughout the city.

Researchers from Boston University and Duke logged 785 road miles (1,263 kilometers) in the city, driving around in a GPS-equipped car with a device to measure methane, the chief chemical component of natural gas. The team discovered 3,356 separate natural gas leaks — some of them potentially hazardous.

“While our study was not intended to assess explosion risks, we came across six locations in Boston where gas concentrations exceeded the threshold above which explosions can occur,” Nathan Phillips, associate professor at BU, said in a statement.

The leaks were associated with old cast-iron underground pipes and were distributed evenly across all neighborhoods, regardless of socioeconomic differences, the researchers said. Their findings were detailed online this week in the journal Environmental Pollution.

Concerns about aging natural gas pipelines aren’t unique to Boston. Each year, pipeline failures cause an average of 17 deaths, 68 injuries, and $133 million in property damage across the nation, according to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Some of the devastating fires that erupted in the New York area during Hurricane Sandy were fueled by natural gas and recent deadly accidents — like the 2010 explosion in San Bruno, Calif., which killed eight — have drawn attention to the importance of pipeline safety. Natural gas leaks also pose an environmental risk, as methane is a greenhouse gas.

“Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money,” study researcher Robert B. Jackson, of Duke, said in a statement. “We just have to put the right financial incentives into place.”

 

SOURCE:
http://www.livescience.com/24963-thousands-of-natural-gas-leaks-found-in-boston.html

Rash of Sinkholes Appear in China’s Harbin

By Fang Xiao & Ariel Tian
Epoch Times Staff

Created: August 20, 2012
Last Updated: August 24, 2012

China’s northeastern city of Harbin has suffered a sudden appearance of sinkholes this month, triggering a feverish discussion on Chinese social media sites about their cause and what they mean.

 

A Harbin resident uploaded this image via his cellular phone, showing a purported sinkhole that appeared in the northeastern Chinese city. A rash of sinkholes hit Harbin recently, prompting questions from citizens as to why. (Weibo.com)

Around seven sinkholes appeared in the city between Aug. 8 and 17, killing two and injuring two more, Chinese Internet news portal Sina reported. Two cars also fell into sinkholes that opened up in the middle of two roads.

Mr. Tang, a computer technician at an electronics store in Harbin’s Nangang District, told The Epoch Times that he witnessed a sinkhole appear near Jiahua Road several days ago.

“A man who was walking on the street fell and suddenly disappeared,” he recalled.

“There was no sign of him anywhere … and it was as if nothing had happened. It was like he disappeared into thin air. It was horrifying.”

Harbin local Mr. Chiang, who also lives in Nangang District, told The Epoch Times that sinkholes are now a relatively common phenomenon in the city, adding that residents say they formed due to the construction of an underground railroad system.

Sinkholes in urban areas can be caused by rainwater seeping through the pavement, but Chiang said in Harbin, they also occur in dry weather.

In recent years, sinkholes have appeared in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

More than 50 cities across China have experienced sinkholes, according to a report by the State Council released February. According to the Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, the widespread construction of skyscrapers and poor development of underground water drainage systems is to blame.

Sinkholes have attracted a great deal of attention on China’s social media sites, including the popular Sina Weibo microblogging service.

Some users think that sinkholes are a bad omen. “The 2012 Judgment Day seems really close,” one netizen said on Weibo Monday, referring to the deluge of sinkholes that recently appeared in Harbin. “How ridiculous.”

One user said, however, that the problem is due to “obvious engineering quality problems [and] has little to do with natural disasters.”

Others pointed out that bad infrastructure caused by local government corruption is the real cause.

“Harbin government officials should be ashamed of themselves,” a Weibo user wrote, for “the countless human tragedies” and treating its citizens’ “lives as a trivial thing.”

SOURCE:
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/china-news/rash-of-sinkholes-appear-in-china-s-harbin-281681.html

Louisiana’s Bayou Corne Sinkhole Reaches Historic Proportions

“The massive sinkhole now has an estimated size of between 6.2 and 7 acres, stretching about 1 by 3 miles, and it is approximately 111 feet deep.”

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By Paul Darin
Epoch Times Staff

Louisiana’s massive sinkhole, near Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou, continues to pose a serious problem for officials and responders. Texas Brine Company LLC, the company many officials blame for the collapse of caverns in the Napoleonville Salt Dome leading to the growing sinkhole, disputes any blame, while officials are seeking monetary compensation—and gases continue to leak out.

Emergency managers issued an evacuation order for 150 homes in the Bayou Corne area on Aug. 3 due to the sinkhole’s growing activity. The evacuation is still in effect.

The massive sinkhole now has an estimated size of between 6.2 and 7 acres, stretching about 1 by 3 miles, and it is approximately 111 feet deep.

“The outer edge of the salt dome, best we can tell, is gone,” said Dr. Gary Hecox, geologist with Shaw Environmental, according to the Examiner. Hecox was contracted by the state of Louisiana.

The sinkhole is believed to be caused by a failed cavern wall in the western-edge caverns under the Napoleonville Salt Dome owned by Texas Brine. The collapse triggered a chain-reaction of collapses, which continued to grow throughout much of autumn.

“The pressure of the brine got so much, essentially you had a fracking-out of the brine going all the way up to the surface,” explained Hecox. “That’s why you have a collapse and fracturing all the way to the surface.”

The collapse has triggered additional effects, including the release of underground natural gas, crude oil, and methane. Texas Brine is currently flaring off the escaped methane gas via relief wells, while officials are calling for more methane testing.

“[The collapse] went right on the side of the salt dome, because that’s where the rocks in the formation are the weakest,” Hecox continued. “The rocks coming down were increasing the pressure in the brine until the frack-out.”

Texas Brine contends that the collapse of their cave was due to additional seismic activity in the area, and that the loss of integrity was somewhere other than in their leased caverns.

The caverns where the collapse happened were being used by gas and oil companies for storage.

“We feel we have been pretty accurate in the past, and in the past, we have concurred with the parish’s assessment. We just disagree in this particular case,” Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said when discussing the controversial size of the sinkhole, according to the Examiner.

The company has been the longtime operator of the sealed and abandoned Oxy Geismar Well No. 3 located on the collapse site.

In early November, Louisiana Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell issued a letter to Texas Brine and cavern owner Occidental Chemical Corporation, demanding payment for emergency responses and state involvement in the amount of $3.47 million. Caldwell demanded immediate payment within 30 days or legal action will be taken.

Response costs totaling $3,474,593 had been charged from June 19 through Nov. 8, according to Caldwell.

Official response costs continue to increase, costing the state more dollars as a “mini-village” of state and parish officials set up a command post south of Louisiana Highway 70, where agencies continue to test air and water quality and where gases continue to escape from the sinkhole.

“As evidenced above, the State of Louisiana has incurred substantial costs in response to the Bayou Corne incident and in the continued investigation of the repercussions of the sink hole caused by the collapse of the Oxy Geismar No. 3 Well cavern owned operated by Texas Brine and Occidental,” Caldwell said in his letter, according to The Advocate.

As officials continue to work on the problematic sinkhole, evacuees continue to remain out of their homes. Dangers of the sinkhole include the possibility of gas explosion from the trapped and leaking gases, as well as the potential for poisoning from the gases.

SOURCE: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/united-states/louisianas-bayou-corne-sinkhole-reaches-historic-proportions-317956.html