February 6, 2014
Should allegations that were brought to light in a federal complaint against Texas Brine regarding the sinkhole in Assumption Parish turn out to be true, Texas Brine did not heed the advice of their own consultants who reportedly informed them that they were in danger of penetrating the edge of the Napoleonville Salt Dome by mining below 5,000 feet in that location. This entire tragedy could have been avoided had they done so.
Yet, as also alleged in these documents, the company submitted a permit application to the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources requesting to mine down to 6,040 feet. In 2010, they made it all the way to 5,654 feet before the solution mining operation blew out the salt into the surrounding strata.
A guest column by one of Texas Brine’s executives published in The Daily Advertiser boasts that Texas Brine spent “$8.2 million in evacuation support to qualifying residents.” This smacks of something written by a typical “bottom line is all that matters” corporate executive.
It would mean more if the company had not been ordered by the court to pay that money to Bayou Corne residents.
How many memories will that $8.2 million replace? How will it comfort our many senior citizens forced to leave their homes where their dreams were to live out the rest of their lives? Or the mothers whose children begged to go back home? How does it help to explain to grandchildren why they can no longer go fishing with their grandparents?
Did Texas Brine offer to help residents sandbag their homes if the springtime high water threatened?
Did the company even simply offer an apology to residents for causing the disruption in their lives? I know of none.
A responsible company would have offered all this and more.
The company’s gesture means so little in this human and environmental tragedy.
Our only other question is to Louisiana: Why is this company allowed to retain any permits to mine our precious resources in this great state?
It’s been more than 600 days since the bubbles were first reported on Bayou Corne and more than 550 days since mandatory evacuation. To put that in perspective, it was 444 days during the entire Iran Hostage Crisis.
We, the citizens of Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou, are tired of Texas Brine’s rhetoric.
What this company owes the displaced residents is an apology and closure. Rather than focusing on the money, Texas Brine should apologize to the residents of Grand Bayou, Bayou Corne, Pierre Part and other citizens of Assumption Parish, for the hardship and grief we have been through, along with an offer to help.
For our part, they could keep their $8.2 million, but in return, they must give back to us what has been taken.
— Mike Schaff continues to live in Bayou Corne, where a mandatory evacuation order has displaced residents near the toxic sinkhole in Assumption Parish.