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Oxford's sinkhole neighbours closely watching hole’s creeping growth


Hole is now 34.2 metres by 28.6 metres

OXFORD, N.S. – As the sinkhole in Oxford’s Lions Park continues to grow neighbouring businesses are keeping a close eye on what’s happening across the street.

“We’re always concerned when it comes to the safety of our employees so it’s always nice to get these kinds of updates on what the situation is,” Bud Anderson said Tuesday, Aug. 28,  following a briefing by officials from Cumberland EMO and the province’s regional geologist. “It’s nice to know we’re not in any imminent danger but we’re obviously concerned.”
Anderson, who owns the Tim Horton’s restaurant directly opposite the park, has been watching the situation closely since a small sinkhole in the park got dramatically bigger on Aug. 20.

While he and the operator of the neighbouring Irving Mainway have been both given notice an evacuation could happen, it’s not imminent.

“With regards to our business we would be pretty quick to get our staff out,” Anderson said. “It’s a little different with our neighbours at the Irving because they would be dealing with having to drain their gas tanks.”

Cumberland County’s EMO coordinator Mike Johnson said those businesses are getting regular updates.

“We’re including them in our regular updates so they have the most up to date information and enough lead time if they have to pump their tanks dry or remove any hazardous material,” Johnson said. “We’re not there at this point. The best we’re looking at is establishing trigger points so we can advise people, but we’re not anywhere near that yet.”

During a briefing Tuesday, officials said the sinkhole grew by .7 metres and 3.9 metres east-west and is not as active as it was Monday. The hole is presently 34.2 metres by 28.6 metres.

Regional geologist Amy Tizzard said the situation remains unpredictable.

“In the last 24 hours the hole has widened more in an east-west direction and it’s gone from more of an oblong shape to more of a round hole,” Tizzard said. “The ground is sandy and is more susceptible to caving when there aren’t many roots around it. That could be a contributing factor.”

TIMELINE

Tizzard said it’s too difficult to predict the direction or speed the sinkhole increases or when it will stop. At this point, though, there is no danger to infrastructure such as the community centre, the roadway or neighbouring businesses.

“We want to gather as much information as possible around the sinkhole so we’re looking at different investigative techniques that includes some high precision surveying to monitor differences in elevation and surveying using ground-penetrating radar which can help image the sub-surface. All these we’re actively looking to get onsite so we can gather as much information as possible,” Tizzard said.

Oxford’s mayor, Trish Stewart, said the sinkhole is “disheartening” for her community.

“You can’t control Mother Nature,” she said. “We just have to wait, watch and see what’s going to happen.”

Stewart said the support from EMO and Energy and Mines has been tremendous.

She said she’s had lots of calls from residents concerned about the sinkhole and pointed out updates are being put on the town’s website as quickly as they are received.

darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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