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Texas Brine to pay $48.1M in Bayou Corne sinkhole settlement 

  Though Texas Brine Company and the plaintiffs involved in class-action litigation over the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole reached a $48.1 million settlement April 8, there's no timeline on when the company will finally buy out remaining homes evacuated after the collapse of the salt mine it operated.

  Before a fairness hearing can be held before U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey, properties left near the Bayou Corne sinkhole will need to be assessed and Texas Brine will make offers on the homes and camps accordingly. "Obviously everyone wants to get this done as soon as possible," said Sonny Cranch, a spokesman for Texas Brine. "But they want to be sure it will pass muster with Judge Zainey."

  The sinkhole in Assumption Parish developed in August 2012, swallowing trees and swampland when the wall of a salt cavern drilled in 1982 collapsed. It's more than 25 acres and growing, though Texas Brine says the sinkhole's growth has slowed as the cavern below it fills up with water.

  As trees continue to fall into the sinkhole occasionally, methane gas is still bubbling up from below. Texas Brine has built a levee around the perimeter of the hole and is attempting to control the spread of oil around the sinkhole with boom and other reinforcements.

  Texas Brine already has bought out 66 properties in the evacuation area. Cranch says the company won't attempt to sell the homes, though a few Texas Brine Co. employees have started living in them to be closer to work.

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