The residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, have been forced to evacuate, as a terrifying 24 acre sinkhole with a depth of 750 feet has opened in the town's forested wetland, providing us with a distressing example of the importance of environmental protection. The destruction is the fault of Texas Brine Company, a company specializing in injection mining. An underground salt dome operated by Texas Brine collapsed in June of last year, and the sinkhole it created has been growing ever since. Take a look at this devastating video (the insanity begins about 10 seconds in, as the sinkhole begins to consume entire swaths of trees):
As with most corporations that specialize in mining, Texas Brine was far more concerned with maximizing profit than with preserving natural resources. Mother Jones reports that, "Texas Brine's first and last mapping project was in 1982, and by the company's own admission, it understated [a mine's] proximity to the edge of the salt dome and the possibility of a breach." Before the sinkhole opened, the residents of Bayou Corne saw crude oil and rotten debris bubbling to surface, and felt the ground quake, but Texas Brine did nothing to address locals' complaints.
Texas Brine has offered the approximately 350 evacuees a settlement, according to IntelliHub. While it's important to provide compensation to victims, the settlement won't do enough to encourage sustainable practices, nor will it prevent future mining disasters.
At a recent community meeting near Bayou Corne, an evacuee shouted that, "This place is no longer fit for human habitation, and will forever be," according to Truthout. As long as it's cheaper for mining and drilling corporations to pay off their environmental transgressions than it is for them to invest in sustainable practices, we run the risk of permanently destroying more ecosystems, and more communities.