Pennsylvania DEP Completes Supplemental Report on Effects Of Underground Coal Mining in Western Pennsylvania

Apr 02, 2001, 01:00 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

    HARRISBURG, Pa., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Pa. Department of Environmental
 Protection (DEP) Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management Jeffrey
 Jarrett today announced the results of a supplemental report on the surface
 effects of underground coal mining over a five-year period in Western
 Pennsylvania.
     "This report is part of a comprehensive effort to study and document the
 effects of underground mining, using accepted scientific methods," Jarrett
 said.  "We completed the first report on the effects of underground mining in
 1999.  This report supplements that effort, following through on our
 commitment to providing additional information and addressing unresolved
 issues about damage claims that originated during five years of underground
 mining.
     "We confirmed reports of damage to 173 more properties in a 61-square-mile
 study area than were documented in 1999, but the percentage of undermined
 properties with damage decreased from 59 percent to 48 percent.  Seventy
 percent of the properties with damage have been restored or otherwise resolved
 to the satisfaction of the property owners, compared with 58 percent in the
 original report.  The remainder are in the process of being resolved or lack
 sufficient details despite DEP's efforts to collect information from the
 property owner."
     The study area included 1,884 properties that were undermined between
 August 1993 and August 1998 in 10 counties -- Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler,
 Cambria, Clearfield, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Somerset and Washington.
 During this time period, 39,000 acres (61 square miles) were undermined.
 Property owners reported water-supply impacts, structure damage and land
 damage.
     To prepare the supplemental report, DEP attempted to contact those
 property owners who had not responded to previous surveys or had unresolved
 claims from the 1999 report.  Using this additional data, DEP was able to
 confirm that damage occurred on nearly half of the properties in the study
 area, but that mine operators are complying with their responsibilities under
 the law to restore properties and repair damage.
     The property owners in the study area reported 678 cases of water impacts,
 352 cases of structure damage and 188 cases of land damage.  Some property
 owners reported multiple impacts.
     Of the 678 reports of water-supply impacts, 500 (74 percent) have been
 resolved to the satisfaction of the property owners.
     In the 352 cases of structure damage, 252 (72 percent) have been resolved.
 Of the 188 land-damage cases, 117 (62 percent) have been resolved.  Mine
 operators have responded to these impacts by providing temporary and
 replacement water supplies, repairing land and structure damage, and
 compensating property owners.  In 81 (7 percent) of the damage reports, DEP
 was unable to obtain details regarding settlement status.
     To better understand the effects of different underground mining methods,
 the supplemental report delineates damage caused by high-extraction, or
 longwall, mining and the older room-and-pillar mining method.  Of the
 properties where damage was reported, 65 percent were above longwall mines.
     DEP has started three additional independent scientific studies to focus
 on issues of more specific concern.  The studies will evaluate the effects of
 mine subsidence on streams; wetlands and riparian areas; forestland; and
 property values.
     Under the 1994 amendments to the Commonwealth's Bituminous Mine Subsidence
 and Land Conservation Act (Act 54), mine operators are responsible for
 repairing or compensating for damages to certain structures and water supplies
 caused by underground mining.  Prior to these amendments, only certain
 structures built before 1966 had to be protected from the effects of
 underground mining.  The law specifies the procedures for resolving damage
 claims between the mine operator and property owner.
     The act requires DEP to assess the effects of underground mining every
 five years.  The 1999 report was the first one ever completed under the act.
     To read the supplemental report, a summary or the full 1999 report, visit
 DEP through the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us or directly at
 www.dep.state.pa.us (directLINK "Act 54").
     For printed copies of the reports, write to Department of Environmental
 Protection, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, Rachel Carson State Office
 Building, P.O. Box 8461, Harrisburg, PA  17105-8461, call (717) 783-8845 or
 e-mail harmiller@state.pa.us
 
     CONTACT:  Ted Kopas of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection,
 717-783-5338.
 
 

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
    HARRISBURG, Pa., April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Pa. Department of Environmental
 Protection (DEP) Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management Jeffrey
 Jarrett today announced the results of a supplemental report on the surface
 effects of underground coal mining over a five-year period in Western
 Pennsylvania.
     "This report is part of a comprehensive effort to study and document the
 effects of underground mining, using accepted scientific methods," Jarrett
 said.  "We completed the first report on the effects of underground mining in
 1999.  This report supplements that effort, following through on our
 commitment to providing additional information and addressing unresolved
 issues about damage claims that originated during five years of underground
 mining.
     "We confirmed reports of damage to 173 more properties in a 61-square-mile
 study area than were documented in 1999, but the percentage of undermined
 properties with damage decreased from 59 percent to 48 percent.  Seventy
 percent of the properties with damage have been restored or otherwise resolved
 to the satisfaction of the property owners, compared with 58 percent in the
 original report.  The remainder are in the process of being resolved or lack
 sufficient details despite DEP's efforts to collect information from the
 property owner."
     The study area included 1,884 properties that were undermined between
 August 1993 and August 1998 in 10 counties -- Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler,
 Cambria, Clearfield, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Somerset and Washington.
 During this time period, 39,000 acres (61 square miles) were undermined.
 Property owners reported water-supply impacts, structure damage and land
 damage.
     To prepare the supplemental report, DEP attempted to contact those
 property owners who had not responded to previous surveys or had unresolved
 claims from the 1999 report.  Using this additional data, DEP was able to
 confirm that damage occurred on nearly half of the properties in the study
 area, but that mine operators are complying with their responsibilities under
 the law to restore properties and repair damage.
     The property owners in the study area reported 678 cases of water impacts,
 352 cases of structure damage and 188 cases of land damage.  Some property
 owners reported multiple impacts.
     Of the 678 reports of water-supply impacts, 500 (74 percent) have been
 resolved to the satisfaction of the property owners.
     In the 352 cases of structure damage, 252 (72 percent) have been resolved.
 Of the 188 land-damage cases, 117 (62 percent) have been resolved.  Mine
 operators have responded to these impacts by providing temporary and
 replacement water supplies, repairing land and structure damage, and
 compensating property owners.  In 81 (7 percent) of the damage reports, DEP
 was unable to obtain details regarding settlement status.
     To better understand the effects of different underground mining methods,
 the supplemental report delineates damage caused by high-extraction, or
 longwall, mining and the older room-and-pillar mining method.  Of the
 properties where damage was reported, 65 percent were above longwall mines.
     DEP has started three additional independent scientific studies to focus
 on issues of more specific concern.  The studies will evaluate the effects of
 mine subsidence on streams; wetlands and riparian areas; forestland; and
 property values.
     Under the 1994 amendments to the Commonwealth's Bituminous Mine Subsidence
 and Land Conservation Act (Act 54), mine operators are responsible for
 repairing or compensating for damages to certain structures and water supplies
 caused by underground mining.  Prior to these amendments, only certain
 structures built before 1966 had to be protected from the effects of
 underground mining.  The law specifies the procedures for resolving damage
 claims between the mine operator and property owner.
     The act requires DEP to assess the effects of underground mining every
 five years.  The 1999 report was the first one ever completed under the act.
     To read the supplemental report, a summary or the full 1999 report, visit
 DEP through the PA PowerPort at www.state.pa.us or directly at
 www.dep.state.pa.us (directLINK "Act 54").
     For printed copies of the reports, write to Department of Environmental
 Protection, Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, Rachel Carson State Office
 Building, P.O. Box 8461, Harrisburg, PA  17105-8461, call (717) 783-8845 or
 e-mail harmiller@state.pa.us
 
     CONTACT:  Ted Kopas of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection,
 717-783-5338.
 
 SOURCE  Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection