Cuomo surveys sinkhole site
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
ALBION, N.Y. — Surveying the site of a massive sinkhole in Albion Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said a disaster was avoided.
"It could have been a real danger. We could have had a loss of life."
The seven-foot-wide sinkhole opened up along Eagle Harbor Road in Albion late Monday night, due to a leak along the Erie Canal.
"We wanted to come firsthand and see the damage and to make sure that the repairs are moving as quickly as possible," Cuomo said.
Rick Seaman, the Canal’s maintenance supervisor, said crews have yet to determine a cause.
"Right now, they're starting to excavate to where the leak site was. We can only work as fast as we can drain the water,” he said. “We've made some few assumptions but we can't pin anything down at this time."
Seaman’s crews have already started work to drain a 25-mile section of the canal from Niagara to Orleans County.
When they're done, he said water levels could get as low as 12 inches.
"We're then gonna refill up to Medina so we can get more farmers back to irrigating, golf courses back to irrigating, there's an electric power plant in Medina and we can put them back online."
That will likely take that section of the canal off-line for several weeks as crews work to find the source of the leak.
On average, state officials said the canal sees about one or two small leaks every year and crews along the aging waterway only have one method of finding them.
"We have employees that walk the canal seven days a week that look for leaks. Each employee has about a ten-mile section that they walk daily," Seaman said.
Seaman explained that this particular leak was draining into an area where there was already water, so it wasn't visible to crews.
Cuomo said the state is committed to maintaining the nearly centuries old economic engine.
"Do we have the revenues to maintain the canal? Yes, we do. This was a break. Obviously, the canal from an aging process requires constant maintenance. This was a break and we're going to repair the break."