Louisiana investigators are probing 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.
Measurements taken last 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.
The situation is worrisome because the hole is believed to be close to a well containing 1.5 million barrels of liquid butane, a highly volatile liquid that turns into a highly flammable vapor upon release. A breach of that well, Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack has said, could be catastrophic.
Texas Brine has until Monday to submit a permit to drill the well or face a $5,000 per day fine, said Stephen Chustz with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.