In Crater Plagued City recently the size of sinkholes increased four times, and there are now five holes throughout the city with fears that they’ll keep growing. Nearby residents have been moved to safer locations, but the threat still lingers.
According to local officials, over a period of just three months, the size of the most recent sinkhole found in Urals city is four times the size of first found in 17th February. The first sinkhole was discovered during a routine patrol near Berezniki (hit by crater) in Perm Krai with a diameter of around 5 meters. According to Uralkaliy’s Head of Monitoring and Geo Exploration Andrey Rodionov, the fifth one initially measured 7.5 meters but now it stands at a whopping 22 meters. He also told that although it extended because of its sliding walls but this cannot contribute to its depth that still stands at 9 meters deep.
What Does Authorities say?
Uralkali’s CEO Dmitry Osipov told, “The Company continues to work closely with the relevant state authorities and scientific experts.”
He also added “The accident is not catastrophic to the company’s operations or people living in the area. The impact is being localized, and we have a clear plan to tackle the situation promptly. We will take all necessary measures to minimize the impact of the incident on the company, our investors, partners and the inhabitants of Solikamsk and the surrounding area.”
It’s also worth mentioning that the town of Solikamsk is almost entirely above the Solikamsk 1 mine and the local media reported is the mines were to flood, whole of the town would have to e evacuated.
Populating around 155,000 citizens, Berezniki is Perm Region’s second largest city and is home to some Magnesium, Potassium and Potash mines. It’s also the ex-Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s former home. In 1980s, water from Kama River leaked into the mines.
How These sinkholes appeared
The first sinkhole appeared in 2006 near Berezniki station’s rail tracks after an incident in the Mine No 1. Initially, the Management tried to stop the leakage of water by building a dam but it didn’t really work, and they had to abandon the mine after flooding it. Still that wasn’t enough for the sinkholes to stop appearing, and another appeared in 2010 also near the railway station.
Just a year after, another huge crater formed nearby Mine Construction Management’s building. In 2012, workers attempted to fill the hole with soil but unfortunately soil collapsed taking in two bulldozers as well as a truck whose driver got killed. The city is now home to 5 holes scattered around it with people fearing they’ll continue to grow with the passage of time.
According to Alexander Baryakh, the Urals Branch’s General Director of Russian Academy of Science the two accidents are interrelated and told “The site where the inflow of brine has been detected completely overlaps with the site of the incident that happened at Silvinit Solikamsk-2 on 5 January 1995. This enables us to conclude that the 1995 accident and its consequences are directly linked to the accident which took place on 18 November 2014,” he announced via a statement on the Uralkali website.
You won’t believe the size
Initially 80 meters long and 40 meters wide, the original sinkhole is also known locally as The Grandfather and has swelled to a much bigger size over the time. The school building near the fifth hole has been abandoned, and the school was moved to another location for everybody’s safety. According to the officials, although the sinkhole didn’t pose any serious threat, they are continuously monitoring the situation.
And the sinkholes are increasing…
In November, there was an accident at a mine near Solikamsk city (about 30KM from Berezniki) that is believed to have caused another sinkhole. Fortunately enough this time the sinkhole appeared in the suburbs where the general population was not affected, and only a few dachas made their way into the water.
Previous month The Siberian Times also reported the appearance of similar kind of holes at Novokuznetsk located in the Kemerovo Region. The diameter of the latest one measured around 20-meters.
Although the exact cause of these sinkholes is not yet established, initial theories suggest mining subsidence causes the phenomenon. Some scientists and researchers fear that there may be many more of these craters spread all over the frozen Siberia that may be because of the temperature rise.