Pasco County building inspectors have condemned five additional homes — because of recent destabilization of a sinkhole on Ocean Pines Drive in Land O’ Lakes.
Pasco County officials say the sinkhole grew another 30 feet, to a diameter of around 260 feet, after a bank on the western edge—closest to Lake Saxon — collapsed between the evening of Aug. 3 and the morning of Aug. 5.
Previously, the sinkhole measured between 225 feet wide to 235 feet wide and approximately 50 feet deep.
The recent destabilization may have resulted from seismic vibrations caused by heavy construction equipment operating nearby the site, according to Kevin Guthrie, the assistant county administrator for public safety.
He reassured the sinkhole is not active, based on information he’s received from geo-engineers and other experts.
“We did anticipate that we were going to have potential problems (during cleanup),” Guthrie said.
The widening temporarily halted cleanup operations and forced building inspectors to condemn five more homes, which show signs of foundation shifts and compromised structural integrity.
The recent destabilization of the sinkhole was the first documented movement since July 19, when the perimeter widened by approximately 10 feet, after sand erosion just below the ground surface dried and collapsed into the hole.
The sinkhole originally opened July 14 in the Lake Padgett community.
Officials say that most of the sinkhole is about 180 feet wide. Its current depth has not been verified.
On the day that the sinkhole opened, it engulfed the properties at 21825 Ocean Pines Drive and 21835 Ocean Drive.
The five additional homes that have met the criteria for demolition are:
- 21815 Ocean Pines Drive
- 21814 Ocean Pines Drive
- 3153 Canal Place
- 21748 Ocean Pines Drive
- 21845 Ocean Pines Drive
Meanwhile, cleanup efforts have resumed.
On July 31, the Pasco County Commission approved $1.3 million to remove the debris, eliminate the public health threat and secure the sinkhole site.
Ceres Environmental Services, the main debris removal contractor, worked throughout much of the weekend on cleanup and recovery efforts.
On the afternoon of Aug. 5, crews began dumping truckloads of lime rock to stabilize one side of the sinkhole and create a slope, to remove floating debris via a small platform barge equipped with an excavator. A total of 125 dump trucks of uncrushed lime rock were brought into the sinkhole area, and five semi-loads of debris were removed from the site.
Following debris removal and disposal by Ceres, EnviroWaste Services will begin removing contaminated water from the site, over the next several weeks.
The county also may opt to bring the roadway leading to the sinkhole up to grade, to later be asphalted in.
Guthrie said the “Phase 1” tasks will not be rushed, to prevent any injuries and further evacuations.
“During this recovery process, we are going to be slow, deliberate, methodical in our approach, as to not get anyone injured,” he said. “If we have to slow down, we slow down. Speed is not of the essence here.”
Following the cleanup phase, county administrators will “hit the pause button” to consult with the Pasco County Commission for the next phases.
Possible long-term options range from leaving the sinkhole alone, to filling and repairing the sinkhole, or connecting it to a nearby lake. Estimates on filling the entire sinkhole would require at least 135,000 cubic yards of dirt.
The entire mitigation of the sinkhole is expected to take several months.
During cleanup, the county is deploying four safety officers to monitor the sinkhole. They will alert neighbors door-to-door if additional evacuations are necessary.
Published August 9, 2017