Sinkhole continues to grow at slow pace

Deep cracks in the pavement near the Daisetta sinkhole are proof that the ground near the sinkhole is subsiding.

Authorities are continuing to monitor the Daisetta sinkhole Monday after some erosion began Sunday evening around the sinkhole that formed in 2008 when a portion of the underground salt dome collapsed.

Daisetta Mayor Eric Thaxton said he was at the site, located on the old DeLoach Oil and Gas Waste Well property on the west side of FM 770, bright and early Monday to see if the cracks in the pavement had grown overnight. Thaxton said there was no major progression that he could see at that time.

Since then, the Liberty County Office of Emergency Management, which is assisting the City of Daisetta in monitoring the sinkhole, has determined that some of the cracks nearest the sinkhole have grown by several inches today. From green paint markings that were placed alongside surface cracks last night, they have been able to determine that cracks that were four inches wide last night are now 5-6 inches wide.

A rusty tank is slowly being consumed by the Daisetta sinkhole.

Using drones, the LCOEM staff have also determined that the subsidence is impacting properties to the south, west and east, but the north side of the sinkhole is bordered by a marsh, so the impact there might be harder to see.

FM 770, a vital thoroughfare for the small community of Daisetta and Hull, appears to not be threatened at this time.

The drone video also shows deep cracks, estimated to be at least 50 feet long and several inches wide, on the north side of a pasture that borders the sinkhole, and deep cracks on the western side that indicates the sinkhole has not stopped growing.

Liberty County Fire Marshal Bill Hergemueller, who leads the LCOEM, said authorities are working with the property owners to find someone to empty five large tanks holding a substance believed to be sodium silicate. Another tank located on the west side of the property is slowly falling into the sinkhole. At this time, it is uncertain if that tank is empty.

“We are also looking for a geologist, possibly geologists who work for a university, to come out to the site and do a comparison to the ’08 sinkhole. We want to see if we have any issues with it coming more toward FM 770. Right now, the sinkhole is only about 80 feet from the roadway,” Hergemueller said.

Representatives from the Texas Department of Emergency Management have been on the scene offering support. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also has been notified.

Hergemueller said his office is still trying to get in touch with the United States Geological Survey to see if that agency can send representatives to the site to assist in monitoring the sinkhole and assessing any threat to nearby homes and businesses. As of right now, no homes are threatened.

A workover rig that was being stored on the property, and was perilously close to the sinkhole edge, has been moved. Entergy Texas has also disconnected the power lines to poles that are in danger of falling into the sinkhole.

The entire city of Daisetta sits on the salt dome, which is located 0.3 miles north-northeast of Daisetta and about two miles south of the nearby town of Hull.

On the east side of the sinkhole is the DeLoach property. Part of warehouse is falling into the sinkhole as is a tank.
Emergency officials used green paint Sunday night to date-stamp and mark the size of the crack. This crack, in particular, was measured at 8:30 p.m. Sunday when it was a 1-inch crack. It has grown to 2 inches as of noon Monday.
This four-inch gash is now 5 to 6 inches wide.
Jesse McGraw with the Liberty County Office of Emergency Management launches a drone to fly over the sinkhole to check for subsidence.
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


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