Volunteers work to clean up sinkhole filled with trash

Volunteers from a nonprofit organization called Current Problems are working to remove trash from a sinkhole in southwest Gainesville.

"It's just physically difficult to get in and out of sinkhole over and over again," Current Problems' Executive Director Nicole Llinas said. "There usually aren't paths to these sinkholes."

FOX 35 asked the organization's executive director how all the trash ended up in the sinkhole and if it is common for people to throw trash in an older sinkhole like this one that is located on protected gopher tortoise habitat. She said yes.

"In these rural areas where they didn't really have access to any sort of waste disposal, this was really the thing to do culturally," Llinas said. "It was accepted. Just when you didn't need something, just toss it in the sinkhole."

Llinas was one of about 10 volunteers who spent three and a half hours removing about 2,000 pounds of trash from the sinkhole earlier this month. There is still another 4,000-6,000 pounds down there.
Llinas said sinkholes are connected to the state's aquifer, which is where a lot of our drinking water comes from. She believes educating the public about the dangers of trash in sinkholes is key.

"It takes five seconds to throw a microwave into a sinkhole, but it takes millions of dollars and hours to get it out 30-40 years later, and we still don't know all the affects that it has on our water."

Current Problems partners with Alachua County to clean up these sites. The group will gather again in the fall to remove the other trash from the sinkhole. Llinas said they will also tackle another one nearby that has about 10 old refrigerators inside it.