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Consol Energy says mine fire may be out

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By John D. Oravecz
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 4:06 p.m.
 

Consol Energy Inc. said on Thursday that it believes it extinguished an underground fire in its Blacksville No. 2 mine on the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border.

Analysis of mine atmosphere readings showed that gas levels remain steady and oxygen levels continue to fall. The Cecil-based mining company had been pumping water into the mine through two boreholes and nitrogen by using two other boreholes to reduce oxygen levels.

Consol said it completed a plan to re-enter the mine, which the Mine Safety and Health Adminstration, state and United Mine Workers officials were reviewing.

Consol spokeswoman Lynn Seay said once the mine is sealed, the atmosphere inside will be monitored over the weekend to determine when it is safe to go inside.

Consol said it completed drilling six to eight other boreholes for the insertion of walls to isolate fire from sources of oxygen. MSHA had said the level of carbon monoxide was decreasing. As of Tuesday, 11.4 million gallons of water and 6.2 million cubic feet of nitrogen had been injected into the mine.

The company shut down the mine on March 12, idling 650 workers, after it safely evacuated 121 workers through the mine's Kuhntown portal, about 15 miles south of Waynesburg in Greene County.

Blacksville No. 2 employees are being notified that they are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits and their benefit plan remains in effect. Consol said it is working to put employees back to work as soon as possible.

John D. Oravecz is a staff writer forTrib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or joravecz@tribweb.com.

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