by Victor Lopez
WINKLER CO.-Local oil and gas producer, John Bell believes, "We need to be cautious about where it is and the understanding on how much area it could affect."
Whether you call it, the Kermit Crater or the Wink Sink, residents say it's all the same place.
It measures approximately 300 feet across. Now, it appears to be multiplying. And the newest member of the family is getting bigger.
According to Bell, "There is a new sink hole that is six or seven times larger than this one, that has occurred in the last three years."
The area around what is being called "Wink Sink 2", is still very unstable. And it's the size of a 15 acre lake.
Random cracks in and around the sink holes are creating concern for safety and well being in Winkler County.
That's why John Bell is asking for support for "The Wink Sink Study", or as he calls it, a large scale science project, "Right now, anything we're doing is personal theories. We have to come up with some science. This is just a big science project to help us understand, how do we deal with it, and what do we to avoid somebody having a catastrophe that we don't see, and get somebody hurt or killed."
Phase one of the study calls for about $730 thousand dollars in funding, 200 thousand of which has already been raised. Leaving a balance of about 1/2 a million dollars left to collect.
Dr. Bob Trentham, Director of CEED, at UTPB, tells NewsWest 9, The money will help provide some pretty high tech study tools, "We are going to be using several state of the art techniques, various types of radar and arial photos."
Since the new cracks and sags are popping up pretty much all over, the images these study tools will provide, will be invaluable.
Trentham says, "We need to know where these are going to potentially develop in the future so that we can help both the oil companies and the public service people to know where the areas with lowest risks and the highest risks are."
The growing threat of these cracks not only affects Winkler County, but other parts of the Permian Basin and even New Mexico.
Bell added, "This thing is large enough in scope, it extends past Monahans on down towards Imperial. We know that this is going to get bigger than we are. There is one at Jal, between Jal and Eunice, New Mexico."
Thus increasing the urgency of the study.