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Environment & Energy

DEP Says Blast Not Likely To Have Caused Breach Of Flooded Mine

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) does not believe that blasting Wednesday at the Marquise Number 4 mine in Somerset County caused water to burst from a nearby flooded abandoned mine. According to the DEP, the water was not acidic but carried sediment through a street in Shade Township and flooded Dixie Run, a tributary of Stonycreek River.

"The [seismic] monitor 150 feet from the blast would gather anything unusual if the charge was too big or set off some sort of a seismic action," DEP spokesman John Poister said.

Poister said the seismograph did not pick up anything unusual.

"The feeling is that the coal seam, which was an abandoned mine above the [Marquise No. 4] mine they were working on, was in very decrepit shape and probably would have let got at anytime."

Poister says the DEP is letting the water run out of the abandoned mine. "It's under control now and is being diverted into a stream has no aquatic life, there are no fish, it's not stocked."

No one was injured when the abandoned mine was breached and there were no workers in the Marquise No. 4 mine at the time. July marks the 10th anniversary of the Quecreek Mine Accident were workers using outdated maps inadvertently breached a flooded adjacent mine. Nine miners were trapped 270 feet below the surface for 77 hours before all were rescued safely.

Poister says the Bureau of Mines does its best to map mines but there are always risks.

"Our part [southwestern] of Pennsylvania is honeycombed with mines many of which are abandoned. It's a danger that we live with," Poister said.