Archive for Thursday, May 12, 2005

Filling sinkhole proves difficult

May 12, 2005


— A massive sinkhole in central Kansas is proving to have a big appetite.

Workers in Hutchinson have poured trainloads of bulky granite ballast and chunks of concrete rubble into the sinkhole that was first spotted in January. It was 80 feet wide then, but it's 210 feet wide now.

The ballast and concrete were aimed at stabilizing the sides to start the long process of filling it. The sunken ground emerged over an abandoned brine well.

Plans call for scooping up loose dirt and sand from an area near the hole, then depositing it into the hole.

"We'll fill it as full as we can get it," Fire Chief Kim Forbes said.

Earth-moving equipment began digging a lagoon near the sinkhole Tuesday. When enough material is excavated, a liner will be installed in the lagoon, creating a temporary holding cell for water pumped out of the sinkhole and water that will be injected deep into the ground.

Dirt and sand excavated from the lagoon will be placed in a pile and carried to the center of the sinkhole by a long conveyor belt, scheduled to arrive Monday. After the conveyor belt arrives, the process should take only a day or two, Forbes said.

Mosaic, a salt company that owns the property, and BSNF Railway, which owns the nearby rail line, are paying the cost of stabilizing the sinkhole.

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