Monday, March 31, 2008

Think Before You Dig

A small German town is apparently sinking after geothermal probes were employed to extract environmentally-friendly heating. Only weeks after the Staufen's "forward-thinking" town council embarked on the project, cracks began to appear in many of the town's historic buildings, including the town hall, area schools and residences. Assuming the town doesn't disappear into a giant sinkhole, the cost to repair the damage is expected to cost several thousand carbon credits.

The problems began when, as part of the refurbishment of the town hall -- built in 1546 -- the council decided to heat the building with geothermal power from deep below the earth's surface. In September last year an Austrian company sunk seven geothermal probes 140 meters into the ground.

Not long later, the first cracks began to appear, and the number of buildings whose facades have cracked open has risen steadily. At last count 68 buildings in the town center have been damaged. The cost of repairs, the mayor said, will run into six figures.

[..] The town's 8,000 residents are now waiting to see what will happen next. Repairs to buildings cannot start before the cause has been conclusively established and the town stops sinking. Mayor Benitz said it was still too early to say how severe the damage will be in the end.

"Will the earth continue to sink or is it going to stop?" he wondered. "If it does stop now, then we will have got away lightly, but if it does continue it could turn out to be quite bad."
cp: Dust My Broom