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2014 April 02, Wednesday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

We have made several flyovers of Bayou Corne in 2014, but we have not been able to public extensively this year.  This article, though brief, will be the first of many this year, as we hope to be able to spend time again helping our friends monitor marine life, ecosystem and habitat recovery in the wetlands of this beautiful area, and to help human habitat and humans as well.  The sinkhole in Bayou Corne, Louisiana, which we first documented in August of 2012, is one of those tragedies that no "Restore Act" is addressing, or perhaps can address.  Yesterday, a little more of what once seemed to be solid ground disappeared, taking with it more trees, and inching ever closer to storage tanks and other infrastructure.

Here are some highlights of the photos we took on a very quick flight this afternoon. You'll see many changes from what it looked like on our earlier flyovers (see them all under "Special Articles" in the right-hand margin of any page of the OnWingsOfCare.org website). Take a good look at the southeast corner, the farthest corner from the community.  Also, check out all of the dredging and other work going on in the bayous south of the sinkhole.

Below these photos we'll post a link to today's video, and below that a gallery of additional photos. We are so sorry for this community, and we wonder whether requirements for improved safety standards can ever guarantee that humans won't exercise poor judgment again, and again. We really need to think about how short-sighted we have been, if there is any hope of our protecting this beautiful home of ours for future generations.

 

2013 November 24, Sunday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Two months since our last flyover of the Bayou Corne sinkhole, and our 14th "look from above" at this unfolding tragedy since August of 2012. Photos and video are provided below, with some comments reflecting on what we have seen over these past 16 months here.  We also bring you some interesting photos of sights between here and New Orleans, and along the Mississippi River and the famous "Cancer Alley."  Here are a few notable photos from today, with video and many more photos below:

 

 

2013 September 26, Thursday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Our 13th flyover of the Bayou Corne sinkhole since August 13, 2012, now 13 months after the first photos we brought to the public eye. We didn't see as much rainbow sheen on the surface of the sinkhole today, and it doesn't look any larger than it did a month ago. Wish we could think of something else non-negative to say about this tragic situation. But the proximity of the bayous and the community to the northwest that has been destroyed make that impossible.  

Here are a few photos from today, followed by a set of photos that show a progression starting from August of 2013 through late July of this year.  Then we have a video from today, and a gallery of additional photos from today.

Photos and videos from all of our previous flights can all be found in the right-hand margin of any page of this website, under "Special Articles", or under the main menu item "Preservation" and under that "Humanitarian."

As always, high-resolution versions of our photos are available for uses that benefit the public. Just contact us for permission to use them, and we'll be happy to share them with you.  Please credit OnWingsOfCare.org for your uses, and remember that we are an all-volunteer organization and operate solely with the help of your donations!

 

2013 July 28, Sunday
Bayou Corne "sinkhole", Louisiana

In less than one week it will be one year since the residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana were told to leave their homes and community because of unknown danger from explosive gases in a sinkhole formed when the wall of a nearby salt dome collapsed barely a mile away from the community.  We first flew over this small sinkhole in August of 2012, when its area was just a little over one acre, and trees were just beginning to give way and disappear into the depths. Now, one year later, that sinkhole spans about 24 acres and as nearly as deep as four football fields end-to-end.  What residents thought might be a 30-day precautionary evacuation has turned out to be the end of their community, the end of their retirement plans, the end of their lives as they knew them.

Relief wells were drilled nearby before autumn set in last year, and sensors were placed inside the cavern to monitor gas pressure and the integrity of the cavern walls. Natural gas is trapped in wet sand beneath the sinkhole, under a layer of clay. There are also caverns nearby (many tens of them are in this area) that have been used to store butane -- a gas that is highly flammable in its vaporform.  As long as the gas pressure remains low enough it, the risk of explosion remains manageably low.  But leakage of the gas, which helps keep that pressure low, has also meant that gas is appearing in the local aquifers and bayous, bringing the hazards of pollution and risks of possible explosion ever closer to the homes and community of Bayou Corne.  Seismic sensors have been put in place, and almost weekly there are alerts of substantial seismic activity, which could signal further collapse and consequent build-up of gas pressure.  

The situation is tense and uncertain in Bayou Corne.  Many citizen volunteers have been present for months to try to help residents in any way they can. Ultimately though, Texas Brine, the owners of the well here -- which was actually plugged and sealed with cement in the summer of 2011, now two years ago -- will have to answer for the economic and environmental damage caused by the failed cavern that caused this sinkhole. And we all need to demand that appropriate regulations be adopted to enforce safety standards that will minimize the risk of damages like this happening again. Just as building codes are written to ensure lasting safety of structures and their surroundings, drilling codes must be written and adhered to, in order to ensure that activities do not compromise the short- or long-term health or safety of the environment. 

Here are two photos from today's flight.  Below them are two photos from our flyover on August 13, 2012, almost one year ago. A full-length video of today's flyover is provided below.

2013 July 23 Tuesday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

We made a quick trip out to Bayou Corne, Louisiana today, after many concerned calls regarding recent seismic activity and potentially "explosive" levels of methane and other gases.  From the air, these dangerous circumstances are not readily visible.  What is apparent, however, is that the sinkhole has grown, and the lovely community to its west is virtually deserted.  

We'll let these photos speak for themselves. High-definition video and more photos are included below.

 

2013 July 10, Wednesday
Bayou Corne Sinkhole, Louisiana

We have yet to hear good news about the sinkhole situation in Bayou Corne, LA. Seeing it even once from the air is enough to make you realize that the hole isn't going away and the trees aren't coming back.  But it's not possible to look at this picturesque community built so tastefully and discreetly along these beautiful bayous, and not wish that somehow the sinkhole could just go away.

Today we flew there from the south, after a mission over the Gulf. It is an incredibly gorgeous flight to approach Bayou Corne from the Gulf coastline. It is nonstop green wetlands, swamps, and trees, with graceful weaving brown waterways running through it. If we could close our eyes to this now enormous sinkhole, it would be like a scene from a fairy tale to suddenly see this enchanting little community nestled along the bayou. Did these people know that the adjacent areas had been drilled worse than swiss cheese? Probably not. Do we really think that all this beauty is here so that we can mine it and steal fossils long buried deep below? To see this from above, it is impossible not to realize that our society's priorities have become terribly skewed!

Sorry for to wax philosophical. But mark my words, if you want more action from those with authority to do something positive about situations like this sinkhole, if they are still in touch with their souls at all, bring them to Bayou Corne on a flight from the south. And let them weep.

Here are a few of our favorite photos from today, followed by a high-definition video, and finally by a gallery of additional photos. As always, any of our photos or videos may be used with our permission for any purpose that benefits Bayou Corne or the whole planet!  If there is more we can do to help, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

 

2013 June 08, Saturday
Bayou Corne Sinkhole, Louisiana

Weaving our way through clouds and some feisty winds, we made a quick trip over to the Bayou Corne sinkhole again today. We were eager to see it, since learning a few days ago that the berm (built since the sinkhole started expanding significantly last August) on the west and south side of the sinkhole had collapsed.  Indeed, as our video and photos from today attest, whatever false sense of security that berm provided is now gone forever. And with it, the residents' last remaining hope that the sinkhole could be contained and they might be able to move back into their homes and their lovely way of life. Some of our favorite photos are shown below this video; and below those is a larger gallery of photos from today's flight, our eighth flyover since August of 2012.

Let's preface this with a sobering comparison of a few photos taken today with some we took last August:

Here are a few more favorite photos from today, followed by a video from today:

2013 May 06 Monday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Today we made our seventh flyover since last August of the sinkhole in Bayou Corne, Louisiana. The pool of liquid did not seem too much larger than it appeared to us a month ago (April 2), but the dead and dying trees to the west were more evident. Appreciable amounts of rainbow sheen still cover the north and northeastern parts of the pool. Today the lighting on some ripples near center of the sinkhole gave an unusual foam-like appearance. We also noticed that while there was still much equipment placed all around the hole and especially near the birms and roads still under construction, there appeared to be little or no work in progress. This is consistent with reports of increased microearthquake and other seismic activity in the area during the past few days.  

The recent rains have brought much water to the surrounding swampland. The tremendous amount of drilling in the area is more evident now than before, or perhaps we have just learned to recognize it! We flew in a counter-clockwise direction today. The community to the northwest of the sinkhole looked quite deserted. More photos and a video are provided at the bottom of this article. 

2013 April 12 Friday
Mayflower, Arkansas

Two weeks ago ExxonMobil's Pegasus Pipeline burst into the backyards of a neighborhood in Mayflower, AR, a beautiful small town next to Lake Conway and surrounded by other scenic lakes and waterways.  Thousands of gallons of tar-sands oil have since filled the yards, streets, and now it has begun to make its way into nearly Lake Conway.

We flew over the area today, on our way to Texas to give a lift to some rescued dogs who have been fostered for some time and are finally headed to forever homes in Nevada and California. We're still on the road as we write this, so we'll keep it brief, but we wanted to get you today's photos as soon as possible.  The last two days have seen some very strong rainstorms in this area, so we were prepared to see little obvious oil from the air.  But that was not the case at all, as you can see in these photos. Either there's plenty still gushing, or this sticky, thick tar sands stuff is not easily washed away.

Some of our favorite photos are here at the start, with a video that takes you all around this part of Mayflower and the water way immediately to its east, which enters into Lake Conway. Below these is a gallery with more photos.  We have many more photos than are shown here.  

As always, we are happy to make available high-resolution versions of these for any non-profit purposes to benefit the public and the environment. Please give On Wings Of Care due credit for these photos in all cases.  We do this work because we care, and we barely afford it only because some of you care enough to help us!  Thank you for that support.

Many thanks to Brayton Matthews of FlightlineFirst at New Orleans' Lakefront Airport for joining Bonny on this flight, so that we could get these photos and videos to you promptly!  

2013 April 02 Tuesday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Our sixth flyover of the Bayou Corne sinkhole since last August revealed a site much worse than we could have imagined last summer. Unlike previously, rainbow sheen now covers virtually the entire visible sinkhole. Many trees on the west side have now disappeared, as has quite a large corner of a dirt work pad at the southeast corner.

While the close-up photos are dramatic, the distant photos that include the community and surroundings are most compelling. In those we see a beautiful, neatly maintained neighborhood of homes in startlingly close proximity to peril.  All around are wetlands and forests of cypress, the uniquely beautiful signature of Louisiana. Who could blame people for settling here and staying for generations on generations? But what now?

2013 March 19, Tuesday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

On Wings Of Care'
s fifth flyover of the Assumption Parish sinkhole near Bayou Corne, Louisiana left us hardly optimistic that the good people of those communities will be heading home anytime soon. Their community meeting this evening isn't likely to bring good news from Governor Jindal or Texas Brine, unless good news is that they can expect to have their homes and land purchased. The sinkhole has grown, and rainbow sheen covers much of it. Flares are burning, to vent gas from the area. What was at first amusing is now depressing -- the large open storage tank at the northeast corner of the sinkhole is painted with bold blue lettering that says "Responsible Care: Our Commitment to Sustainability."

2013 February 15, Friday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

"That old sinkhole, she ain't what she used to be!"  She's a bit bigger.  And uglier.
We grabbed the first day of decent visibility and flying weather to go check this out again, since the latest news was that an additional 5000-square-foot area had just caved in.  There was little activity in the immediate vicinity of the sinkhole; most of the equipment, air boats, and manpower that used to be there have moved farther away. But there is quite a bit of work going on in the land surrounding it.  We're going to let the photos and video speak for themselves today.  Apologies for a video that mght make you feel airsick -- the air was quite turbulent with wind shear at the 1500-2000' level.

2013 January 26 Saturday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Five weeks after our last update of December 24 on the Bayou Corne sinkhole, we are finding that things actually look a bit worse. The water levels seems higher, and the work efforts appear to have subsided. Equipment has been removed, and the homes to the west and northwest of the sinkhole look seriously unpopulated.  The recent seismic activity has people and the government concerned, and evacuees cannot expect to be able to return to their homes or communities any time soon.

The following Google Earth maps of our flight track show the background as it looked long before this sinkhole developed (the image is stamped with "©2013 Google" but the Google image was not taken in 2013!). The blue line is our flight track; each photo is a progressively tighter zoom in.  The third photo of the sinkhole in this group will give you a quick idea of how much the immediate area has changed, and how large a sinkhole has developed where previously there was none. Many more photos plus a video are included below.

Concerned citizens have kept information flowing with Facebook and email, and many have posted regular aerial videos on youtube (see, e.g., this summary of videos between August 2012 and January 2013). Please see our December 24 and August 13 articles also for comparison with our prior photos and videos.