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DEP unveils new website to identify mine-subsidence risk

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, June 14, 2018, 1:00 p.m.
Above, a DEP graphic illustrating the potential effects of trough subsidence in an underground mine. A newly revamped website, PAMSI.org, can help residents assess their risk for mine subsidence.
Graphic by PA DEP
Above, a DEP graphic illustrating the potential effects of trough subsidence in an underground mine. A newly revamped website, PAMSI.org, can help residents assess their risk for mine subsidence.
Work is underway to stabilize the ground beneath the Fine Wine and Spirits store on Northern Pike in Monroeville. The store was closed recently because of structural damage caused by an unstable mine below the surface. Work is expected to be complete by the end of June.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
Work is underway to stabilize the ground beneath the Fine Wine and Spirits store on Northern Pike in Monroeville. The store was closed recently because of structural damage caused by an unstable mine below the surface. Work is expected to be complete by the end of June.
The home at 175 Eleanor Dr. (right) in Latrobe, is believed to have been damaged beyond repair due to mine subsidence, and the owners were forced to move out, as seen on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The home at 175 Eleanor Dr. (right) in Latrobe, is believed to have been damaged beyond repair due to mine subsidence, and the owners were forced to move out, as seen on Monday, Jan. 16, 2017.

Pennsylvania's long history of coal and clay mining has contributed greatly to the economy and the defense of the nation. Unfortunately, it also contributed to the occasional destabilization of the ground beneath state residents' feet.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protections recently rolled out a revamped website to provide residents with as much information as possible about whether they are at risk for mine subsidence.

The new PAMSI.org site contains information for residents about known underground mine locations and possible risks for subsidence. Updated maps show historic mining and known coal-bearing areas that could be affected by mine subsidence from old and abandoned mines.

“Underground mining has a long history in Pennsylvania, and historic mines can still cause subsidence today,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “I encourage all Pennsylvanians to log on and see what their risk is and to sign up for mine subsidence insurance if needed.”

Concerns about subsidence delayed the opening of the new $95 million Thomas Jefferson High School. Work continues on a Monroeville strip mall that collapsed into an abandoned mine in late 2017. After a Latrobe woman's house was damaged in early 2017 by mine subsidence, state officials realized that much of the city's downtown rests above an area with deep abandoned mines .

Cracked foundations, collapsed walls and homes sinking into the ground are possible impacts of underground mine subsidence, which is not typically covered by homeowner's insurance policies.

“DEP is continuously improving our maps and data for underground mining,” McDonnell said. “Our goal is to have the best underground mine mapping easily accessible to anyone who wants to view it, so that residents can know if they could be affected and can easily sign up for Mine Subsidence Insurance if they need it.”

DEP administers low-cost mine subsidence insurance coverage. The average policy of $160,000 costs about $7 a month, and senior citizens are eligible for discounted rates.

For details, see PAMSI.org .

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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