Separate geophysical studies conclude network of abandoned mines extends beyond state’s claims
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Unstable subsurface mines that have forced evacuations in the Hideaway Hills neighborhood extend farther than previously disclosed and pose a broader risk to the region, including potentially a stretch of Interstate 90, according to recent independent geophysical studies.
Data from soil-resistivity studies indicate that unstable mines that caused an April 2020 sinkhole in Hideaway Hills extend to the north, east and south of the Blackhawk-area neighborhood. Western Engineers & Geologists and other consultants commissioned by the Fox Rothschild law firm have previously concluded that flooded voids exist under a portion of Interstate 90. Now a separate analysis by Montana Technological University using Electrical Resistivity Tomography has provided more data about those voids.
“The state has been aware of these findings but continues to deny the extent of the problem,” trial lawyer Kathleen Barrow, of the Fox Rothschild law firm, said. “Too many families are already suffering because of the state’s long history of disregard for these abandoned mines. These latest findings confirm that urgency is needed in the state’s response.”
Separate soil-resistivity studies reached similar conclusions about the extent of gypsum mining undertaken by the state of South Dakota starting in the 1910s. The Fox Rothschild law firm represents Hideaway Hills homeowners who were forced to evacuate because of the sinkhole and increasingly unsteady ground shifting. The lawsuit charges that the state failed to properly remediate the mines before the surface rights were sold to developers who built the Hideaway Hills neighborhood.
The Fox Rothschild complaints are the only lawsuits to survive legal challenges, and the legal team is now working to consolidate them in class-action litigation. The case is Andrew Morse and John and Emily Clarke et al. v. State of South Dakota et al., No. 46CIV-20-000295 in the Circuit Court, 4th Judicial District, County of Meade, South Dakota.
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