Daisetta Mayor Lynn Wells says something potent gushed like a geyser from an abandoned well on his property at the same moment a monstrous sinkhole was forming a quarter mile across town.
The sinkhole became a national curiosity on May 7, 2008, as it grew as wide as two football fields, gobbling up everything from a tractor trailer cab to giant pine trees.
While water with some chemical contaminants has since seeped into the hole and turned it into a six-acre lake, residents in this old Liberty County oil field town say the sinkhole’s legacy lives on.
View photos of the sinkhole here.
They fear the sinkhole only a block from their fire station and high school could make their property worthless and jeopardize their future water supply. As a result, the Daisetta City Council and 230 residents have authorized a law firm — Watts, Guerra, Craft in San Antonio — to investigate and sue whoever was responsible.
In the first published report providing any explanation for the phenomenon, a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality adviser theorized injection disposal wells may be primarily responsible for destabilizing the area and creating a kind of quicksand 1,000 feet below that led to the collapse. These wells are used to dispose of saltwater and other nonhazardous oil field waste by pumping them into geological formations deep below the surface.
An underground wave
Robert Traylor wrote a report inMarch 2009 in the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists’ journal that said disposal injection was the “most obvious cause” of all the possibilities.
The report also stated the force of that collapse created an underground wave of fluids that pushed up through the mayor’s unplugged well and two others.
That spray left everything in its wake “graveyard dead,” declared the mayor. Wells said the fluid flowed like a river over six acres of his property. New vegetation has started to replace the crunchy brown grass, but none of his trees survived. “I’m having to cut down 100 of them,” he said. “This was potent stuff.”
Read more about this Sinkhole Damage.