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Brine well could cause massive sinkhole in Carlsbad

Leonard Tapia
February 09, 2017 06:52 PM

CARLSBAD -- The brine well in Carlsbad has been abandoned for the past several years. The well is underneath a massive piece of property where businesses, hotels, restaurants and gas stations now sit.  

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The land is more than two football field long, a football field wide and two football fields deep. Geology and time have caused a huge problem: the well is now nothing more than a home to a massive sinkhole.

Experts say the land could collapse at any time. The damage would be unfathomable, to the tune of more than$1 billion.

“The cavity will collapse,” said George Veni of the National Cave & Karst Research Institute. “For all I know, it can start collapsing in 10 or 15 minutes.”

For some perspective, Veni said a sinkhole like this has the potential to swallow the New Mexico Roundhouse. It sounds almost like something out of a movie, but the danger is very real.

“In fact, you can take the Roundhouse and stack it on top of itself and it still wouldn’t reach the land surface in terms of depth,” Veni said.

What’s even scarier is that this sinkhole could happen in Carlsbad’s busiest intersection.

“Then you have all these other infrastructure around there,” he said. “You got five gas stations, an elementary school, couple of banks, a hotel, a feed store, a church, you know. There’s all sorts of stuff all around.”

The state is well aware of the danger. It currently has an active monitoring system. This will help to pinpoint more accurately when a collapse might happen. Veni warns that this potential crisis must be addressed.

“We can either stand outside and argue about who sets fire to it and whose insurance is going to pay for what, or we can put the fire out, before the whole house burns down,” he said.

Meantime, state lawmakers are taking notice.  A bill sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, aims to create an authority to provide funding to deal with this issue

“If this bill is passed, and we go in with the proper materials, the proper engineering techniques and fill the cavity,” Veni said.

Meantime, people here are living in fear and worry about the possible sinkhole. They say the state must deal with this immediately

“It’s a time bomb you know, it just needs to be fixed,” said Jesse Davis, who lives in Carlsbad.

Another local who lives near the Brine Well says it’s a matter that is very alarming.

“I am concerned about it because I live in this area,” Clara Estrada said. “I’m very concerned about it.”

Credits

Leonard Tapia

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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