The Mystery of the Holes in Susquehanna County

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LENOX TOWNSHIP -- One home in Susquehanna County has signs warning people to stay off the property. The homeowner says the signs are not just warning trespassers.

"This is what my granddaughter found. It was just a small hole like this and that's what it turned into," Sheila Petrochko said.

Finding holes on this Lenox Township property near Kingsley has become a regular occurrence lately for Petrochko.

"I walk through my yard and I'm finding more holes everyday," Petrochko added.

She also thinks her yard is starting to sink. "Is my ground going to open up? Am I going to fall into a hole? Are my grandchildren? That's what I'm concerned about," she said.

In her 10 years living here, Petrochko said there have never been any holes.

"Nothing new has happened in the area besides a well that Cabot drilled and they finished about a month and a half ago," Petrochko said.

According to a Pennsylvania DEP spokesperson, there have been no other complaints about possible sinkholes in this part of Susquehanna County.

Late this afternoon, a DEP inspector ruled out natural gas drilling as the cause. State officials believe the holes were caused by natural subsidence.

The state isn't exactly sure what naturally caused the holes to form.

Cabot Oil & Gas pointed out its gas well is about a mile from the homeowner's property.

The gas company said they are not responsible for the holes in Petrochko's yard. Lenox Township Supervisor Fred Benson agrees.

"I just think it's a settlement. It ain't got nothing to do with the gas from my estimation," Benson said.

Petrochko said she just wants to know why the holes keep popping up.

"I feel like I'm yelling and screaming. I would like to find out what happened and why and how we are going to fix it," she said.

A spokesperson for DEP said that an inspector placed meters in the holes. It determined that there was no natural gas present in the areas where the holes have formed.

A DEP spokesperson added that natural subsidence can be caused from rain or even the type of fill someone has in their driveway.



  • Jim Benson

    You looking for a hand out or a answer? Because if you want the answer it’s gonna cost you some money. Nothing in this world is free!

    • Sheila

      I want to know why and then figure out how to fix it. My late husband did all the excavating here. I know what was done…that it was done right and that it doesn’t take ground 10 years to settle. That my dog died 8 years ago or longer…..she’s under the tree on top of the ground. She didn’t come up…the tree has sunk. To watch this happen to the land my late husband worked so hard for breaks my heart. So if you know….I never asked for anything free….everything we got we earned and I continue to do so.

      • bottomless pit

        You can start by putting a stop to your garbage collection. Then take all of your household waste and put it down the hole. See how fast it fills up. If it doesn’t, well then you’ve got a free place to get rid of your trash.

  • sheila

    These holes are sink holes opened up from the inside. No one can tell me exactly how deep or how wide they go. The ground under my tree is collapsing. My tree is sinking into the ground. My back driveway is built on a mountain of solid rock….that also is dipping in spots. Something happened….it doesn’t take 10 to 11 years for the ground to settle. And right around the time they drilled this well….the only thing happening in this area.

  • Inconvenient Truth

    Looking at the property on Google earth and noting the location it to the former township dump property, I am more confident that the problem with sink holes the lady is having are probably related to that. She should have her drinking water tested, not for gas, but for whatever contamination may be coming from the old dump.

    • Keep yelling lady some one will hear you!!!

      TThere is 3 acers that belong to the township That is a pie shape… that is where they dump.. not on hers its self!

    • Keep yelling lady some one will hear you!!!

      only 3 acres of that is the town ships its a pie shape nothing more… that 3 acres is there dumping ground they have not sold it it is still there…

    • Brett Jennings

      That is why people need Phase I or Phase II environmental assessments done on properties or at least a due diligence report. From knowing about the old dump in Oakland or the one in Conklin NY near me, there are many issues with these old unlined dumps.

    • She needs answers!! Keep fighting!!

      The whole property was not a dump ground only 3 acres are and the town ship still owns that.. They will not sell it.. She bought the property as clean land.. On top that she owned the property for 10-11 years so why all of a sudden is it sinking.. Her well is 800 feet down! She will be getting her water tested… She isn’t blaming the gas company it’s just that no one will give her answers she needs answers!

    • Keep yelling lady some one will hear you!!!

      it was rules out due to holding a meter over the whole didn’t pick up the gas coming out of the hole.. the held it over the hole not IN the hole! with the winds the way they are i don’t see how this is accurate but ok.. I say let the ground cave in all the way then look for answers!! the truth always comes out.. As for Fred and his great hat! keep advertising buddy! he ruled it out because hes friends with them all and is probably being paid off just to keep signing what ever they need signed!

    • sheila

      I went to Cabot today to get a drilling map. Instead I got two women who asked me to step into this room off the entrance way…..The older woman was yelling at me and telling me it wasn’t there fault…it couldn’t be there fault as she drew angrily on the board insisting they go down to deep. I never said it was their fault what I said was they were the only activity in the area. She even questioned me on that. Feeling intimidated I walked out. They never gave me a map….but that’s OK cause they won’t scare me either . All I want is answers and know how to fix it. My late husband did all the excavating and work here….this is all I have left of him and this is what will be left to my children. This is my home….I shouldn’t have to worry about being in my yard or driveway.

  • Inconvenient Truth

    Very near the property that is having settlement issues was a township dump many years ago. I would bet there is some settlement from that. The township sold the former dump about 15 years ago. I wonder if that was disclosed when those properties around it were sold. Next door are some storage units. They are built on the property with the former dump. At least one of the supervisors should have direct knowledge of this…

  • Kelly

    My two cents is that she probably has limestone under her, which tends to dissolve into caves as water moves through it. Perhaps some local disturbance is causing the ceilings of the caves to collapse, leaving holes on the surface. Maybe gas drilling is related, maybe it’s not. Either way I don’t think our public officials should actively be advertising for gas drilling companies on the news (notice Fred Benson’s hat).

    • Brett Jennings

      From knowing the geology around Susquehanna County, what limestone any where near the surface. I do not know of any. Blue stone and other sedimentary rocks are a bit thick before if any limestone.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.