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Hempfield’s Bovard neighborhood to be checked for mine subsidence |

Hempfield’s Bovard neighborhood to be checked for mine subsidence

Megan Tomasic
Price St. in the tiny town of Bovard in Hempfield. The town, originally was called Crows Nest after the coal mine operated by Keystone Coal & Coke Co.

Several homes in the Bovard neighborhood of Hempfield could be prone to mine subsidence, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Officials believe between 60 and 80 homes in the Bovard area could be located in a subsidence prone area, according to agency spokeswoman Lauren Fraley. Mine subsidence occurs when the ground above an old or abandoned mine cavity collapses, causing damage to buildings above.

In October, Westmoreland County Emergency Response notified DEP officials about a possible mine subsidence under a Bovard home. Exploratory drilling helped find a mine void, which was filled with a cement-like grout.

Bovard sits over Keystone Coal and Coke’s Hempfield Mine, which was abandoned before 1936. More than eight decades later, state officials believe a high chance of mine subsidence remains for some Bovard homeowners.

Starting in late spring or early summer, DEP plans to drill to see if mine voids exist, working in Hempfield’s rights of way. If evidence is found to indicate the possibility of future subsidence, an area-wide, ground-stabilization project will be started, Fraley said.

At that time, officials will provide information to residents, conduct community meetings and obtain property access if needed.

All work will be paid for by the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement Abandoned Mine Land Grant Fund. Property owners will not be required to pay anything for the work.

The first exploratory phase should create little disruptions to residents, Fraley said.

DEP last year announced plans to conduct mine void work in Bradenville, Plum, Rostraver and Derry Township. That work was included in $55.6 million to be spent statewide to reclaim abandoned mines that scar the landscape, pollute streams and pose threats to homes. The money, from the Abandoned Mine Land Grant Fund, comes from fees assessed on coal production.

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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