Storing hazardous substances underground may keep them out of sight, but it doesn’t make them disappear. The residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana know that firsthand, as their land is slowly disappearing into a sinkhole thanks to chemical companies that have long been filling the ground beneath the town with propane, butane and natural gas.

The gasses gurgled their way upward, some rocks slid down, and the result is an unstoppable sinkhole swallowing anything in its path, including 100-foot trees. The sinkhole already spans 25 acres, and will likely grow to double that size.

Resident Mike Schaff told The New York Times, “You go in the swamp, and there are places where it’s coming up like boiling crawfish.” Schaff won’t be waiting around for the sinkhole to reach his property. He’s leaving town.

The lesson here is that as “safe” and “clean” as pollution-creating companies may claim to  be — and as hard as the better ones may they try to live up to those promises — there’s just no telling how Mother Nature is going to react to an altered landscape. Clean coal (if such a thing exists) also involves storing emissions beneath the ground. Fracking by definition requires forcing fluids through underground rock, which is one of the reasons its so dangerous.

When you mess with the environment, you’re messing with your own backyard. And the Texas Brine Company, which is most likely responsible for the Bayou Corne sinkhole, messed with the “backyard” of a whole lot of people — not to mention the innocent wildlife who lost their homes or their lives in one big gurgle of toxic gas.

Image: NNSANews