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Sinkhole area called 'very dangerous' to public

Monday, June 10, 2013

(Photo)
ADAM VOGLER ~ avogler@semissourian.com
One of two sinkholes located in the 2300 block of South Sprigg Street
Friday, June 7, in Cape Girardeau. The sinkholes, which have caused the street to be closed, are getting worse according to Cape Girardeau public service director Tim Gamling. [Order this photo]
Editor's note: The following story has been edited to correct that Ken Eftink's comments were from 2011, when he was assistant city manager.

Cape Girardeau's public works director Tim Gramling said two sinkholes on South Sprigg Street, near LaCroix Creek, continue to grow. A sinkhole in the creek is causing water to flood into the nearby Buzzi Unicem quarry.

Gramling said as the waters of the Mississippi River rose to above flood stage for the second time this spring, the problem worsened. He said one of the sinkholes on South Sprigg Street is about 50 feet in diameter and about 15 feet deep. A second sinkhole near the end of the bridge over the creek is 20 to 25 feet in diameter and is roughly 6 to 8 feet deep.

"And it's growing as we're talking," he said.

Gramling attempted to explain why the problem, which has closed a portion of South Sprigg Street indefinitely, developed.

(Photo)
ADAM VOGLER ~ avogler@semissourian.com
One of two sinkholes located in the 2300 block of South Sprigg Street
Friday, June 7, in Cape Girardeau. The sinkholes, which have caused the street to be closed, are getting worse according to Cape Girardeau public service director Tim Gamling.
"You've just got to picture what's going on underground," he said. "It's like a 3-D Swiss cheese. Flood water gets into the cracks and crevasses and starts to fill up the quarry."

The water erodes the soil, causing more sinkholes.

Gramling said employees from Buzzi Unicem are working to address the creek sinkhole. He said the company is damming the creek by the bridge, attempting to isolate the water and keep down the flow into the quarry.

"They're not shut down, but they're trying their best to keep the water down," he said.

City employees are monitoring the creek bridge.

"It hasn't been affected," Gramling said. "We keep an eye on it."

The city and Buzzi Unicem have attempted in the past to fill the sinkholes with rock and concrete, to no avail.

"You can put stuff in them and it just disappears and we've done that for several years," Gramling said. "If we filled the holes up, by tomorrow [the fill] would be gone."

(Photo)
ADAM VOGLER ~ avogler@semissourian.com
One of two sinkholes located in the 2300 block of South Sprigg Street
Friday, June 7, in Cape Girardeau. The sinkholes, which have caused the street to be closed, are getting worse according to Cape Girardeau public service director Tim Gamling.
The sinkholes have been a problem in the area since 2007. In 2011, assistant city manager Ken Eftink said the number of sinkholes has grown from 15 to 33 in two months. The state Department of Natural Resources plans to take a look and city officials have met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and former U.S. representative Jo Ann Emerson.

While the crest of the Mississippi River at just short of 45 feet on Friday at Cape Girardeau is good news in many ways, Gramling said it isn't much help as far as the sinkholes are concerned.

"When the water goes down, it actually aggravates them," he said. "It could aggravate them and make them worse."

Gramling said Ameren is keeping a close watch on a major natural gas line that runs through the problem area.

Asked if there's much that can be done, Gramling was not optimistic.

"Not really; just keep an eye on it," he said. "Right now the main thing is safety for the public. It's very dangerous; it's very unpredictable; it's random. It's just not a place for people to be walking around, unless they're emergency workers."

As for the future, the permanent closure of Sprigg Street in the area of the creek is a possibility. The city had to change plans to expand its wastewater treatment plant -- the first few sinkholes were noticed south of the plant -- and instead build a new one in another location.

Gramling said not to expect the closed portion of Sprigg Street to reopen any time soon.

"It will probably be closed now for a while," he said.

jpulliam@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent address:

South Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.


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Did the "Buzzi Unicem quarry" create this problem?

If so, shouldn't the city should hold them financially accountable?

-- Posted by heads.up. on Sun, Jun 9, 2013, at 5:55 PM

These photos of the quarry over the years and the sinkholes may give an idea of what's going on.

Bottom line is that when the river is high, it creates a lot of pressure that is going to force water to follow the path of least resistance. That big hole in the ground is awfully tempting to it.

http://www.capecentralhigh.com/cape-phot...

The sinkholes in 2011

http://www.capecentralhigh.com/cape-phot...

Photos of the caves that were part of the old quarry.

http://www.capecentralhigh.com/cape-phot...

-- Posted by ksteinhoff on Mon, Jun 10, 2013, at 2:19 AM

Mother Nature created the sinkholes. The quarry had nothing to do with them.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Mon, Jun 10, 2013, at 5:42 AM

FreedomFadingFast: "The quarry had nothing to do with them."

While Mother Nature is certainly to blame for the karst & nearby creeks the quarry is hardly blameless. Decades of blasting, moving heavy equipment, and pumping water certainly contribute to sinkhole creation. In particular by pumping massive amounts of water out of the quarry pit they are greatly contributing to sinkhole creation in the surrounding area.

Here is a US Geological Survey review of studies of quarrying in a karst area. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2001/ofr-01-0484...

The section of quarries causing sinkholes begins on page 16.

-- Posted by Nil on Mon, Jun 10, 2013, at 10:38 AM


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