SINKHOLE SCENE: Rescue workers at the scene where a man was buried up to his neck in the sand dunes at Urangan. Council machinery is used to help dig around the area.
SINKHOLE SCENE: Rescue workers at the scene where a man was buried up to his neck in the sand dunes at Urangan. Council machinery is used to help dig around the area. Alistair Brightman

Broken stormwater pipe caused beach sinkhole: Council

A DISLODGED storm-water pipe joint is believed to have caused a freak sinkhole which swallowed a man up to his neck at Urangan.

It follows the Fraser Coast Regional Council launching an investigation into how the sand trap formed after Hervey Bay man Kym Baxter-Sayers was trapped for several hours on Thursday.

The council initially said a "natural occurrence” was to blame.

But after pipework near the dunes was uncovered, CEO Ken Diehm said one of the pipe joints was found to be dislodged, "which could have led to the development of a sinkhole.”

"Initial investigations last week were inconclusive so the pipework was unearthed by digging a trench up to five metres deep and 20 metres long,” Mr Diehm said.

"The pipe will now be fixed and the hole filled in and the dune restored.

"As part of the project, council will use cameras to check other storm-water outlets along the beach to ensure other pipes have not broken or become dislodged.”

An exclusion zone was set up around the scene after Mr Baxter-Sayers was rescued by more than 30 emergency personnel and council employees.

Residents are reminded to keep off dune vegetation when visiting the beach.

"The vegetation helps maintain the dunes and protect them from erosion,” Mr Diehm said.

It is the second sinkhole the council has been notified about on a beach or in the dunes this year.

The sinkhole, which formed on Torquay Beach, was believed to be the result of underground water movement causing the sand to become soft. The beach was monitored for some time and no further reports of soft sand on Torquay Beach have been received.

In a separate incident, council staff worked on a sinkhole that appeared in Cypress St near the intersection with Margaret St in January

An investigation determined it was also caused by a dislodged storm-water drain end.



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