Drilling begins to stabilize Mt. Oliver homes
Testing for mine subsidence in Mt. Oliver Borough could expand when the state Department of Environmental Protection finishes filling sinkholes that damaged homes on Frederick Street, officials said.
Coastal Drilling East of Morgantown on Friday began tapping into the mine more than 200 feet below the street and will shoot cement in it to stabilize shaky ground. Ten homes sustained damage, and subsidence threatens 10 others. The $1.35 million project is expected to take six to eight weeks.
“In the last 10 years, we've been in Mt. Oliver four times (for emergency mine subsidence),” said Gene Trio, a DEP mining engineer. “Based on that, it warrants an exploratory drilling project to determine the extent of damage.”
What DEP finds on Frederick Street will determine whether more testing and stabilization are necessary, said agency spokesman John Poister.
Problems on Frederick Street date to long-defunct Ivill Mining Co., which worked the area from the 1860s until 1922, Trio said. This is Mt. Oliver's worst case of subsidence, according to borough engineer Ruthann Omer.
“It's not unusual in these types of situations for DEP to check if they got it all and if there are any possibilities for more of that to happen,” she said, adding that all residents should buy subsidence insurance. “We'd appreciate if they would do that, because we don't want to see that happening to another street in the borough.”
South Hills neighborhoods sit atop the Pittsburgh Seam, a coal deposit that stretches from Western Pennsylvania into Ohio and West Virginia. Much of the region is extensively undermined, according to DEP officials.
Maps of these old mines do not exist, and DEP is trying to pinpoint the Ivill mine based on surface damage. Coastal drilled down 210 feet without hitting it on Friday. Crews will resume work at 7 a.m. Monday.
Residents are happy to see workers there.
“You guys are angels, do you know that?” Janet Wolf told DEP representatives gathered on Frederick Street.
Her basement walls cracked, but insurance will cover the damage.
Trio said Ivill used room-and-pillar mining, a method in which miners leave pillars of coal for support. Those pillars deteriorate after 50 to 70 years, causing subsidence. Coastal will drill 57 holes on properties impacted by subsidence and shoot cement down the holes until voids below are full. The cement hardens and supports the ground, said Dean B. Baker, DEP environmental program manager.
“We've been doing this for 30 years, and of all the houses we've done, which is about 2,500, we've only had four instances of more subsidence once this is done,” Trio said.
Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Shaler man charged in death of girl, 6, not prosecuted in repeated alcohol cases
- Diminishing number of pilots takes toll on small airports in Western Pa.
- Would-be Troy Hill carjackers scared off by sirens
- African-American Heritage Day Parade in Pittsburgh draws more than 40 groups
- 17-year-old male killed, 15-year-old female shot in McKeesport
- Pa. spends millions on death penalty cases that rarely end in execution
- Lawsuit claims Plum School District ignored racially-motivated assaults against black students
- Pittsburgh police officer hits pedestrian in East Liberty
- Police: Man steals cash from tip jar at South Side restaurant
- Police urge caution after several Perry South break-ins
- Newsmaker: Bob Herbert