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Mine repairs under way in NBV

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 12:42 a.m.
North Belle Vernon Public Works Supervisor Dennis Hill talks to Environmental Projects Construction Inspector Mitchell Smith, of the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection in the backyard of 641 Green St.,North Belle Vernon. Work has begun in stabilizing nearly 6,000 sq. ft. area that sunk due to mine subsidence Nov. 28. Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Crews from Howard Concrete Pumping, of Cuddy, Pa., drill holes into the back yard of 641 Green St. in North Belle Vernon. A concrete-sand mixture will be injected into the holes to fill up the mine subsidence with hope of stabilizing the ground. Jim Ference | The Valley Independent

The state Department of Environmental Protection has begun efforts to stabilize the area affected by mine subsidence in North Belle Vernon.

Mayor Ed Lyons said crews arrived on scene earlier this week.

“With all the specialized equipment that was needed, I'm very pleased with their response,” Lyons said. “It really looks like they're moving quickly to solve the problem.”

The DEP's Southwest Region spokesman, John Poister, said it's going to take at least 300 cubic yards of concrete-sand mixture to fill the void in the mine.

“We're going to need about 30 truckloads of the material to fill the voids,” Poister said. “The mix will be injected through bore holes that are being drilled on the property.”

Poister said the main focus of the $135,000 project is in the rear of 641 Green St.

He said DEP has confirmed the presence of a mine under the property.

“This was the Somers No. 1 mine, owned by the Pittsburgh Coal Company,” Poister said. “As far as our research can tell, it hasn't been operational since before 1940. It's a deep mine but we're unsure exactly how deep it is.”

Poister added that the mine hasn't stopped settling.

“There is considerable damage to the property and it's continuing to settle,” he said.

The seriousness of the situation prompted the DEP to tap into its Accelerated Response Bituminous Project.

“The program allows us to move quickly and get the resources that we need for an event like this,” Poister said. “We're able to get the funds needed to stabilize the property very quickly.”

Poister said there is no timeline for completion of the project but added that, once the crews are started, it won't take long to complete.

“There is another area at the site that involved a driveway and a garage,” he said. “The garage wasn't covered by the subsidence program, but we're going to take a look at it and do what we can to fix that also.

“We'll be working in close conjunction with North Belle Vernon on the project.”

Borough officials believe the subsidence occurred in the early morning hours of Nov. 28.

The event happened in Lynn Alley, between Baltimore and Vine streets. The alley, which also sunk and cracked, runs parallel to Speer and Green streets.

Borough street Superintendent Dennis Hill estimated the affected area at 75 by 80 feet, or 6,000 square feet. He said the alley actually has dropped nearly three feet.

Three garages and four yards were affected. The borough has two catch basins in the alley that may have been damaged as well as the pipes associated with them. There was no damage to borough water and gas lines, which are all located on the main streets and not in the alley.

Borough council President Dennis Simboli said after council's monthly meeting Tuesday that he is happy to see the response of the DEP.

“Their response was excellent. There really wasn't a lapse in timing, especially with getting the type of equipment they'll need to do the job,” Simboli said. “They're going to be locating the voids in the coal and, once they do, they'll begin the filling process.”

Simboli said that the borough will be responsible for fixing Lynn Alley.

“We'll incur all the costs involved with rebuilding the road,” Simboli said the day after the event. “The roadway, asphalt, the catch basins ... we'll be responsible for those costs.”

Homeowners are responsible for their property. It is unknown which affected residents, if any, carried mine subsidence insurance.

Information on the DEP's mine subsidence insurance program can be found by visiting www.pamsi.org or by calling 1-800-922-1678.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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