Weather delays sinkhole cleanup

- Crews hoping to begin repair on the 235-foot sink hole in Land O' Lakes can't seem to catch a break, not in the weather at least. A steady barrage of summer thunderstorms has stalled repair efforts.

It's been more than a week since the giant sink hole swallowed two homes, a car, boats and part of the roadway. All of that debris, and the contaminated water it's sitting in, will need to be hauled out before the hole is filled back in.

Before any of that work can even begin, however, engineers need to do more testing to make sure the ground around the sinkhole is even stable.

Pasco County Emergency Services spokesman Kevin Guthrie says radar scans of the ground and roadway around the sinkhole showed several anomalies last week. To find out exactly what those anomalies are, core drilling machines will need to test the soil, but this weekend's near constant barrage of summer storms kept workers at a standstill.

"Every time we get lightning within a 10-mile area those folks have to stop doing what they're doing for 30 minutes," said Guthrie. "The [core drilling] machine goes up 30 feet in the air and it's an all metal frame. It's in essence a 30-foot lightning rod up in the middle of the roadway."

For now, officials say they're keeping a close eye on the radar and erring on the side of caution.

"They want to check everything out to make sure that there's no ground stability problems so that when we start bringing in the bulldozers, the front end loaders, the 70,000-pound dump trucks and potentially even a crane, we don't have a collapse in the roadway and lose one of those pieces of equipment," said Guthrie.   

Weather permitting, the drilling crews will double up on workers Monday in order to finish testing the ground's stability. If everything looks stable, they'll be able to start the actual repair process on the sinkhole by midweek.

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