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Daisetta sinkhole continues to expand as experts try to figure out why

A giant sinkhole in Liberty County that appeared dormant is once again swallowing land around it in the small town of Daisetta, Texas.

DAISETTA, Texas — Multiple agencies are still trying to figure out why a sinkhole in Liberty County is growing again and if any hazardous materials might be at risk of being swallowed up.

The giant sinkhole in the small town of Daisetta had been dormant but it began swallowing land again this week. A vacant building and a number of storage tanks have also vanished inside the hole.

Liberty Office of Emergency Management said Thursday there was “some” growth overnight. 

The EPA, TECQ and other agencies continue to help to gauge the sinkhole’s growth and presumably determine if those storage tanks contain any hazardous materials.

Meanwhile, TxDOT is keeping tabs on FM 770/Main Street in Daisetta, which is about 80 feet from the original 2008 sinkhole. There appeared to be a dip in the roadway but it’s unclear if it’s related.

Folks in Daisetta, which sits on top of a salt dome, are just waiting and watching.

“I have been praying for the town every day, every time I pass through here," area resident Sharon Guillory said. “We know that God is able to do anything  so that’s what I’m praying."

For many people, this is a bad case of déjà vu.

In 2008, the Daisetta sinkhole made national headlines when grew to some 900 feet wide and 250 feet deep.

Seemingly overnight, the ground near what was the DeLoach Oil and Gas Waste Well began to crack and collapse.

The sinkhole, just a few blocks down the road from Hull-Daisetta High School, swallowed buildings, vehicles and trees back then. 

“We were able to see on TV the round circles,” nearby resident Ronita said Tuesday. “Then it all caved in and then the edges started going until we have what we have today.”

“At first glance, it looks like it’s reactivating a little bit," UH professor and licensed geologist, Dr. Don Van Nieuwenhuise, said Wednesday. “And what happens with these things is nothing happens for a long time and then a big cavity forms and once the cavity gets big enough, it becomes weak enough and can’t support the substrate or sediment above it."

He believes ground-penetrating radar might be able to help investigators detect any new fractures that hopefully won’t grow any further.

There have been no evacuations so far but everyone is asked to stay away from the sinkhole. 

TECQ issued the following statement on Thursday: 

"TCEQ was notified on April 3, 2023 that the sinkhole in Daisetta was growing in size. TCEQ is working with other agencies to respond to the incident. Actions are ongoing to identify and remove any potential hazardous materials near the sinkhole. TCEQ will continue site visits to oversee the on-scene response for the removal of hazardous materials."

The EPA issued the following statement on Tuesday.

"The EPA is on site with the TCEQ, Texas Department of Transportation and the local fire marshal performing a joint assessment of the site. At this time, we are establishing a plan to conduct sampling and hazardous categorization and we are communicating with residents within the affected area."

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