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 Post subject: Ringwood: New sinkhole worries Ringwood residents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 12:09 pm 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
New sinkhole worries Ringwood residents ... k2OTA3NjI0

Friday, March 31, 2006


RINGWOOD -- Residents of Upper Ringwood's former iron mining community are now doubly worried after a second sinkhole opened up in a front yard.

"It's just a gamble walking across my yard," Roger DeGroat said Thursday.
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In July, a sinkhole opened in his lawn just after he finished mowing it. On Wednesday evening, DeGroat's 15-year-old grandson fell into another, shallow hole a few feet away.

Though he wasn't injured, it sent a scare through the residents of five homes clustered off Sheehan Drive. The new hole is near the street and apparently has deepened since it first appeared. It is now about 4 feet deep by 5 feet wide.

"It's got us nervous, you know. We don't know how many more are going to open up," said Vivian Milligan, who lives across the street from DeGroat.

The area around their homes was a mining operation from before the American Revolution until the 1950s. Investigators last year determined that the 15-foot-deep-by-20-foot-wide sinkhole in DeGroat's yard is the location of a 19th century surface mine that was 30 feet deep and 80 feet long.

Borough officials installed a fence around that hole and are seeking a state grant to fill it.

DeGroat and his neighbors are concerned that nearby work by Ford Motor Co. contractors to excavate paint sludge from an old industrial dump at the end of Peters Mine Road may have caused the sinkholes.

Standing on his deck, DeGroat looked out over the two sinkholes and noted how they line up with a large backhoe digging into an old landfill area several hundred yards away in Ringwood State Park.

"This is just mind-boggling," Mayor Joanne Atlas said after seeing the new sinkhole. "It's disturbing, and it makes you wonder if there is a connection between the heavy work being done very nearby and the appearance of those holes."

But a Ford spokesman, Jon Holt, said engineers with Arcadis, the company doing the cleanup work, don't feel that their excavating and drilling work with heavy machinery is to blame.

"We'll cooperate as we have in the past with the residents and the town and state officials to investigate what may have caused this," Holt said.

A spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said his agency will send inspectors to take a look at the new sinkhole.

In September, officials with the state Department of Labor's mine safety bureau told DeGroat and Ringwood officials that under state law any hazards related to a mine are the responsibility of the property owner.

DeGroat said his homeowners insurance company refused to handle the situation. He has repeatedly complained to state officials that the original sinkhole is just a few feet from his house and continues to claim a bigger area of his lawn.

"I don't know what to think anymore," DeGroat said of the second sinkhole. "I thought I was safe with all the fencing put up. But I'm just grateful to still be alive, because that hole could have got me this summer."

Reproduced with permission of North Jersey Media Group.

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