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Daisetta Sinkhole Information
The Liberty County Office of Emergency Management continues to work with a number of agencies in regards to the sinkhole located in Daisetta, Texas.  This sinkhole occurred on the morning of May 7, 2008 and at the time of this posting, May 28, 2008, the sinkhole remains approximately 600 feet in length from north to south and 525 feet in width from east to west. The estimated depth of the hole is believed to be approximately 150 feet.  There continue to be areas of ground around the sinkhole that are slowly falling, however, based on information from scientists monitoring the site, this activity was expected and no rapid expansion has occurred.    There have been no injuries or deaths as a result of the sinkhole.

The Texas Department of Transportation has closed the section of Highway 770 that runs near the sinkhole.   The sinkhole remains approximately 80 feet from the roadway and the latest information received indicates that the roadway itself may have actually subsided approximately 5 inches near the sinkhole site.  The Texas Department of Transportation has stated that the roadway will remain closed until a determination can be made as to whether the roadway is safe for traffic.

There are a number of agencies involved in the investigation into what caused the sinkhole to occur.  These agencies are also working to determine if further expansion of the sinkhole may take place in the future.  Scientists with the United States Geological Survey have placed monitoring devices at the site and are compiling data on an hourly basis. A link to the monitoring devices being used by the United States Geological Survey can be found below.   

Below you will find a list of agencies that are involved in the investigation at the sinkhole site. These agencies will be reporting information as it develops and will forward their information to our office. Please feel free to contact Liberty County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Branch or Deputy Coordinator Debbie Scott at 936-334-3219 if you have any questions regarding the investigation.

United States Geological Survey

Contact: Mark C. Kasmarek   

Telephone # 936-271-5318

Email address: mckasmar@usgs.gov Railroad Commission


Texas

Contact: Gil Bujano

Telephone # 713-869-5001

Email address: gil.bujano@rrc.state.tx.us

 

Texas Department of Transportation

Contact:  Stephen Gbur

Telephone # 936-336-2224

Email address: sgbur@dot.state.tx.us

 

Dr. Carl E. Norman

Geologist

Telephone # 713-461-7420

Email address: DOD895@aol.com

 

Terri Bivins

District Coordinator for State Representative John Otto

Telephone # 936-258-9135

Email address: terri.bivins@house.state.tx.us

 

Louisiana State University
Center for GeoInformatics
Contact: Dr. Roy K. Dokka
Telephone # : 225-578-2975
Email Address: rdokka1@lsu.edu


Website for USGS Daisetta Sinkhole Monitoring Device: http://tx.usgs.gov/

 

Update - June 10, 2008
 
The Governors Office has denied the county's Disaster Declaration.  The  letter stating that the request had been denied indicated that damage to individual and public property did not support a request for a major disaster declaration.   
 
The Liberty County Commissioners Court has drafted a resolution requesting that the State Of  Texas take responsibility for permanently monitoring property adjacent to the sinkhole.  This resolution will be forwarded  to representatives of the state in the coming days.  The purpose of this resolution is to ask the State of Texas to set up monitoring devices that would provide early warning of any possible ground movement in and around the town of Daisetta.

Update - June 24, 2008


A  workshop will be held on Tuesday, July 1 at 6 30 p.m. at the Daisetta High School Auditorium.
 
This is a joint workshop between the Commissioners Court of Liberty County, the City of Daisetta, Hull-Daisetta ISD and the Hull-Daisetta Volunteer Fire Department.
 
The purpose of the workshop is to present Geological and Legal options regarding the sinkhole situation. This workshop is for informational purposes only and no action will be taken.

Update - July 10, 2008


The public workshop held on July 1st was attended by approximately 300 people and a presentation was given by Jim Blackburn of the Blackburn Carter Law Firm.
The information provided guidance for future action that may need to be taken by local officials as well as citizens living in Daisetta.  Members of the Hull Daisetta School Board, as well as members of Liberty County Commissioners Court and the Daisetta City Council will be evaluating the information contained in the presentation and each will determine their next course of action.
 
Liberty County Commissioners have already presented Texas Governor Rick Perry with a resolution requesting that The State of Texas place monitoring devices at the site of the sinkhole, in order to provide early warning of any future ground movement.  
 
A  meeting was held on July 8th at the Dayton, Texas office of State Representative John Otto,  regarding state assistance in dealing with the sinkhole.  The meeting was attended by Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald, as well as Daisetta Mayor Lynn Wells and members of the Daisetta City Council as well as members of  the Hull Daisetta School Board.  The biggest concern at this immediate time is finding a way to have a seismic survey conducted in an effort to determine the stability of the ground in the area around the sinkhole, which is located just a few hundred yards away from the Hull Daisetta High School.  There are other concerns as well, including the reopening of Hwy 770, determining when the Railroad Commission intends to begin cleaning up any substances that may be confined within the sinkhole,  determining what caused the sinkhole to develop in the first place, and obtaining more timely information from the Railroad Commission on just what activities they are conducting at the site and at other locations in Daisetta.  Representative Otto indicates he will personally advise the Governor as to these concerns.  
 
Daisetta Mayor Lynn Wells reports that soil samples taken from his yard, which was damaged by the flow of brine water that leaked from a nearby well when the sinkhole developed, were negative for harmful chemicals.  The Railroad Commission has advised they will be removing trees that were damaged by the flow of this water, and that they intend to cap at least two previously uncapped wells located in Daisetta.   


Update - July 17, 2008
 
A meeting was held on July 14th in the offices of The Texas Railroad Commission in Austin. The meeting was arranged by State Representative John Otto and State Senator Tommy Williams and was hosted by members of the Railroad Commission as well as geologists with the Bureau of Economic Geology.  Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald, Hull Daisetta School Superintendent Mary Huckabay,  School Board Member Andy McCreight and Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Branch were also in attendance.  
 
The meeting focused on several issues, however, the number one priority was to determine if  school in the Hull-Daisetta School District would be able to begin classes on August 25th as scheduled.   A scientist with the Bureau of Economic Geology provided documents showing that results of ground testing done in the area did not indicate any signs that there was an immediate threat of ground movement in the region near the school.  These test results have also been reviewed by Dr. Carl Norman from the University of Houston and both of these scientists have agreed that there are no current safety hazards that would  prohibit school from opening as scheduled.
 
There are many different activities scheduled in and around the sinkhole over the coming days, weeks and months, including additional ground movement monitoring, testing of existing disposal wells, and a continued investigation to determine what caused the sinkhole to develop.  The Liberty County Office of Emergency Management is receiving daily briefings from the Texas Railroad Commission and any new information will be posted on this webpage.

Update - August 6, 2008


The following information was received from the Texas Railroad Commission on August 6, 2008:
 
The Texas Railroad Commission reports that an LSU website is up that updates every 5 seconds and shows any GPS differential between the high school (on the auditorium roof) and the Deloach facility (LSU trailer parked at the South corner of the DeLoach Bldg).  The horizontal "zero" line has two jittering lines tracking movement between the two points ... the jittering is due mainly to atmospheric noise, but there is still a background noise factor (traffic, temperature, wind, etc).  If the signal jumps up to the yellow line +/- 0.06 and stays there, the unit will automatically dial cell phones to alert the monitors.  
 
The website link is:
 
http://geoinfo.lsu.edu/joomla/downloads/daisetta/TXD1_Status.html
 
A report that a new sinkhole was forming by the school was inaccurate. The School District Superintendent Mary Huckabay indicated that there was a hole that developed, associated with a storm water drain and a drainage issue and that had been a known problem for several years. Apparently yesterday a truck drove over the problem area and a tire sank down into the hole.

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