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Texas Brine to pay sinkhole evacuees $875 per week

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NAPOLEONVILLE, La. (AP) — Texas Brine Co., the company that owns the brine cavern believed to be responsible for a growing sinkhole in Assumption Parish, said Thursday it will begin compensating families in the evacuation zone.

Sonny Cranch, spokesman for the Houston-based company, said beginning Friday an assistance fund will provide a weekly housing check of $875 to each family affected by the slurry area near Bayou Corne.

Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency for the parish Aug. 3 when the sinkhole rapidly grew, swallowing up trees and liquefying an acre of swampland into muck. At least 150 homes and several businesses were forced to evacuate

As experts predicted, the sinkhole grew by 50 feet Thursday morning as the surrounding environment sloughs into it. Two cleanup workers in a boat near the site almost fell in and had to be rescued by airboat. Their boat, which was tied to a tree, was eventually swallowed by the muck.

There were no injuries reported and cleanup operations have been suspended.

Officials said the sinkhole might be related to structural problems within a brine cavern drilled into the Napoleonville salt dome.

Texas Brine began shipping in equipment for a relief well Wednesday.

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