Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

45-foot-deep sinkhole opens at south Hillsborough landfill

The landfill manager noticed a 5-foot depression at the Hillsborough’s Southeast County Landfill on Tuesday. The next day, the sinkhole had grown to 75 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Engineers aren’t sure if farmers spraying crops contributed to the hole.

Photo by Tony Rojek | Bay News 9

The landfill manager noticed a 5-foot depression at the Hillsborough’s Southeast County Landfill on Tuesday. The next day, the sinkhole had grown to 75 feet wide and 45 feet deep. Engineers aren’t sure if farmers spraying crops contributed to the hole.

LITHIA — At first, all you notice is a really big hole.

Then the smell hits. Like the sour stench that puffs up when you tie up a kitchen trash bag.

That stink could indicate a problem even larger than the hole: a leak.

A 45-foot-deep sinkhole opened up at Hillsborough County's Southeast County Landfill, utilities officials said Wednesday. With it surfaced fears of damaging environmental effects: wastewater seeping into the ground or gases polluting the air.

"There has never been in the history of this landfill any activity like this," said Patricia Berry, landfill and environmental services group manager.

So far, she said, there isn't enough information to say if the sinkhole has caused any environmental harm or why it formed.

County officials alerted the state Department of Environmental Protection, the county Environmental Protection Commission, Tampa Bay Water and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Tuesday afternoon, the landfill manager noticed a 5-foot depression on the west side of the property, an area last used in February. By Wednesday, the sinkhole had grown to an estimated 75 feet wide and 45 feet deep.

It's "very unusual" for sinkholes to appear in landfills, Berry said, because waste is more likely to spread outward.

In January, dozens of sinkholes formed in eastern Hillsborough after farmers drained aquifers to protect plants during a streak of below-freezing days.

With this week's freezes, farmers sprayed their fields Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. But the Southeast County Landfill on County Road 672 lies about 20 miles from that troubled zone around Dover and Plant City.

On Wednesday, landfill surveyors weren't pointing fingers at farmers. But they weren't ready to rule anything out.

Engineers will evaluate wave readings, similar to radar, to see how far the damage goes underground. Groundwater testing and gas monitoring will check for cracks in the inches-thick layer of clay that contains the waste.

The landfill, the only one in the county to manage municipal waste, is not upstream from any residential wells, Berry said.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

45-foot-deep sinkhole opens at south Hillsborough landfill 12/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
  2. Yale dean on leave over offensive Yelp reviews leaves post

    Bizarre News

    NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A Yale University dean who was placed on leave over offensive reviews she posted on Yelp has left her position at the Ivy League institution, school officials said Tuesday.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane

    Bucs

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.