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EMO officials watching forecasted rain for impact on Oxford’s sinkhole

Oxford’s request for federal assistance in the form of geotechnical equipment to get a look underground near the sinkhole in the Lions Park has been turned down.
EMO officials will be watching the skies closely overnight Tuesday and the potential impact of heavy rain on Oxford's sinkhole. - Shaun Whalen Photography

MP Bill Casey to lobby for use of federal equipment

OXFORD, N.S. - Officials watching a sinkhole in Oxford are going to be keeping an eye to the sky for the next couple of days.

Environment Canada is forecasting significant rain for Tuesday into Wednesday and it could impact the sinkhole that’s in its second week of development in the Lions Park.

The remnants of tropical storm Gordon are expected to move through southern New Brunswick and northern Nova Scotia, dumping 30 to 50 mm of rain in some locations.

“We do expect an increased rate of erosion and instability as a result of the rainfall and we will be monitoring the situation accordingly,” Cumberland County EMO coordinator Mike Johnson said. “We’re expected the water that runs downs into the cracks could erode the soil. It could potentially create an increased rate or erosion. We’ll be watching it closely to see if it causes anything to happen.”

There has been very little activity around the sinkhole with the size remaining the same as it was on Friday, Sept. 7.  The overall maximum dimensions remain at 32.6 metres by 38.7 metres, however material continues to erode along the margins of the sinkhole.

Security fencing is expected to be completed later today and security will remain on site for a period of time.

Video surveillance remains in place.

Absolutely no trespassing is allowed and trespassers will be prosecuted under the Protection of Property Act.

There is increased concern around newly developed cracks in the parking lot that are approximately 22 meters from the shoulder of Upper Main Street and 44 meters from the sinkhole.  The origins of the cracks require further investigation. 

Due to the lack of subsurface information around the sinkhole and surrounding properties, it is unknown what level of risk this poses to the community, road and local businesses. 

As a result, residents should begin considering alternative routes for accessing the Trans-Canada Highway, should circumstances change.

Details of the public information meeting have not yet been determined. Information will be released as it becomes available.

Last week a request to the federal government for equipment to look underground was turned down, but on Monday Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey visited the site and said he will work with the minister to get the necessary equipment.

“I’ve contacted the office of the minister and hopefully we’ll get a positive response,” Casey said. “I’m going to emphasize this is a safety measure. If this sinkhole had opened up in the playground we would be looking at a disaster. The issue is we don’t know where it’s going to open up next. I think it’s important to get this equipment and find out where it’s going.”

Casey said the fact more cracks are developing is concerning and he plans to speak strongly to his federal counterparts to get help for Oxford.

“This is not a convenience issue,” he said. “This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed and the federal government has a role to play in this. It’s an urgent manner for a small town that doesn’t have the resources to deal with this.”

darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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