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Water poured into giant Louisiana sinkhole after 4 breaches in containment berm

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Aerial image of giant Louisiana sinkhole April 23, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP) Aerial image of giant Louisiana sinkhole April 23, 2013 (Source: Assumption Parish OEP)
Western berm breach 5-10-13 (Source: Assumption Parish Police Jury) Western berm breach 5-10-13 (Source: Assumption Parish Police Jury)
Western berm breach 5-10-13 (Source: Assumption Parish Police Jury) Western berm breach 5-10-13 (Source: Assumption Parish Police Jury)
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BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB) -

According to Sonny Cranch with Texas Brine, heavy rain is to blame for the four breaches that opened in the containment berm before dawn Friday. Cranch says two of the four breeches have been repaired.

About three weeks ago, officials decided to extend the berm wall because the primary berm wall was not holding its proper height and subsidence problems. They were 90 percent complete on the extension when the breaches happened.

"We made the decision to extend the western leg beyond that particular point to a point further west to assure that we would be in an area where there wouldn't be subsiding," said Texas Brine spokesperson Sonny Cranch.

Cranch says that slow sinking and Friday's rains caused the four breaches in the berm. He says the weather kept crews from repairing it.

"In the meantime, we're taking all possible measures to prevent any, any possible escape of water from the within the immediate sinkhole area to the swampland beyond," said Cranch.

The berms are meant to contain any oil or salt from the sinkhole. Officials say the water flow coming into the berm area has stabilized and is no longer flowing. However, they have added a containment boom as a precautionary measure, around the outermost breach to keep possible contamination in the berm area.

The Department of Natural Resources is also keeping a close eye on developments in Bayou Corne.

"What we're trying to determine is there anything in the surrounding area that could create a future risk," said Patrick Courreges, Department of Natural Resources Communications Director. "We do know, as far as the surface area, the sinkhole probably will continue to get wider but shallower."

Courreges says scientists and crews are making progress in the search to find out what's going on underground. He says vent wells are releasing gases from the aquifer, and seismic imaging is complete. It just may take another month for their experts to analyze the images.

"The pressure to get folks answers and back in their homes is sometimes competing with the pressure to make sure we get this right. Because we cannot be...when we say it is safe for people to return home we cannot be wrong," said Courreges.

Courreges says it has been harder to get answers about what's going on with this particular sinkhole because they are dealing with nearly 5000 ft. of rock.

The sinkhole grew by three acres last month, bringing its total size to about 15 acres.

It has been nine months since hundreds living near the giant sinkhole were forced from their homes.

Bubbles were spotted in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou in June 2012. Two months later, the ground opened up and left a nine-acre sinkhole. Residents were evacuated and have been for the past seven months. Most affected residents began receiving weekly checks from Texas-Brine in the amount of $875 per week.

On March 13, Texas-Brine, the Houston based company that owns the salt dome that caused the sinkhole, announced it would begin assessing the homes and offering buyouts and settlements for the 350 people evacuated.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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