- Associated Press - Sunday, May 14, 2017

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - A potential massive sinkhole worries some New Mexico parents whose kids ride the school bus.

About half of Carlsbad school buses drive over the former I&W; Brine Well, which was closed after the area was consider unstable, on a daily basis, the Current-Argus reported (https://bit.ly/2pzlWaT) last week.

The area could collapse as early as 2020, according to experts. It could create a crater up to 300 feet (91 meters) deep and hundreds of feet wide, they said. The collapse could cause deaths, experts predict.

Parent Mattie Campbell is one of the many Carlsbad parents who are on edge over the issue.

“As a parent, I would hate to lose my children to an accident because of something that was done by an older generation,” she said. “That’s a lot of students (who travel over it). That’s a lot of future Americans. It’s kind of horrific.”

Carlsbad Municipal Schools Director of Operation Don Owen has said he does not think students are at risk. The district met with the local fire department, EMS and other experts at the beginning of the school year to discuss the well. The meeting left the district feeling confident about their view.

“Everyone has a different opinion,” Owen said. “Some think it’s a travesty that we still send our buses over that. It’s in the middle of town, so it’s easy to monitor. Our take is to listen to the experts.”

Eddy County Emergency Services has partnered with other agencies to form a plan that would alert traffic of the danger hours before the collapse. Manager Jennifer Armendariz admits it is close to impossible to predict the exact time of collapse, but she said many options are in place to keep people safe. At the very least, Armendariz said they will be able to keep traffic from driving into danger.

The school district will be the first to be warned, she said.


Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, https://www.currentargus.com/

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