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Several Penobsquis residents say they are tired of dealing with large sinkholes, which they blame on the local potash mine.

The southern New Brunswick village has been battling water problems for several years after wells in the area suddenly went dry.

Now the latest environmental malady facing the community are the sinkholes that have opened up around the community, some of them at least waist-deep.

Resident Beth Norrad has already lost her well water and lately has watched sinkholes show up on her property.

She said she is frustrated by the problems caused by living in the area.

"I don't want to stay here," Norrad said. "I want to live in a rural farming community and not an industrial park.


Beth Norrad pokes at a deep sinkhole that filled with water and froze over on her property. She wants the local potash mine to buy her house. ((CBC))

"But that is where I am and I can't leave. I just want them to buy me out and let me go."

Rena Hawthrone, a local grandmother, said she was visiting the playground at the Penobsquis community hall when she made a frightening discovery.

"I looked over and I seen this humongous hole and I said, 'Oh my soul. We got to get out of here kids.'"

The large sinkhole is now filled with dirt so children can't climb in. So far, the sinkholes have mainly shown up on property-owners' land or in wooded areas, but not on streets.

Mining began in the area decades ago, and PotashCorp., the mine owner, is building a new operation. The company says a link betweed the sinkholes and mining hasn't been established.


Amateur video shows a person climbing into a sinkhole next to the Penobsquis community hall.

But residents suspect the company's underground mining activity is to blame. Beth Nixon, a member of a local citizens group, said residents want the mine to accept responsibility for what is happening in Penobsquis.

"We are supposed to believe that the sinkholes that are occurring are a coincidence, that structural problems are a coincidence, that peoples septic fields that are no longer flowing properly are coincidences," Nixon said.

"Those are an awful lot of coincidences. Basically what their stance appears to be is prove it."

Nixon said residents plan to press the point at a hearing with the province's mining commissioner, where the issue will be discussed.