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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Diamond Crystal Salt Company
Jefferson Island Salt Mine Inundation

Delcambre, Vermilion County, Louisiana
November 20, 1980
No. Killed - 0



See also:   Jeffererson Island No. 3 Shaft Explosion, Apr. 15, 1920
Jefferson Island Mine Roof Fall, Feb. 19, 1970

Lake Peigneur Drilling Disaster from Wikipedia
Lake Peigneur Disaster Video

From the Google News Archives:
(news links open in a separate window)


In 1980, Texaco drilled down to look for oil beneath Lake Peigneur.  A little too far down.  The mistake drained the entire lake like a bathtub, creating an enormous whirlpool that consumed barges, drills, and 65 acres of land.

The error lay in the fact that the Diamond Crystal Salt Company was simultaneously operating beneath the lake, essentially creating a giant bubble for Texaco to pop.  As the drilling proceeded, Texaco workers found their gear stuck.  The drill would go no further.  Then, suddenly, it went further.  A lot further.  The entire 150 foot tall contraption sunk beneath the water's surface—the surface of a lake that was only 10 feet deep.  But their drill was just the start.

As the hole into the mine widened, the vortex accelerated and created massive landslides, pulling anything and everything into its maw.  Eleven barges, a tugboat, enormous swaths of forest—everything in or around the water was sucked down.  The whirlpool's power was so great that it reversed the flow of an entire canal that normally flowed outward from Peigneur.  This body now surged back into the depleted chasm, creating, temporarily, the tallest waterfall in Louisiana state history.  It was the sole moment in history during which the Gulf of Mexico flowed north.

Incredibly, not a single person died.



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