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 Post subject: Palo Alto mine woes continue; workers strike coal, water
PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 6:56 am 

Joined: Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:12 pm
Posts: 85
Location: Harrisburg, PA (or in the coal fields)
Palo Alto mine woes continue; workers strike coal, water
Published: August 2, 2009

Jacqueline Dormer/staff photo Rich Peel, left, of L. Robert Kimbell & Associates Architects and Engineers, Ebensburg, talks with Dave Minnear, project manager, while coring rock 50 feet below Palo Alto.

PALO ALTO - Crews are still digging for answers along Savory Street, where an abandoned mine blowout has turned the street orange and frustrated neighbors.

"We'll have an orange street forever. I just hope they come up with a solution," Faye McElvaney, 301 W. Savory St., said Friday morning.

Across the street from McElvaney's house, state Department of Environmental Protection subcontractors continued exploratory drilling in the backyard of 302 W. Savory St., the home of James Somers Jr.

For several years, underground mine water has bubbled to the surface, occasionally flooding both the street and Somers' garage and basement. Previous attempts to find the water source and fix the problem have been unsuccessful.

Earlier this week, DEP-contracted engineering company L. Robert Kimball & Associates, Ebensburg, began digging deep into the earth, searching for clues.

"There is a tunnel here. People say mules were used here, so we're expecting the tunnel to be at least six feet high," John Curley, senior civil engineer with DEP, said Friday as he supervised the drilling. "But, that's all speculation. A situation like this isn't too common."

The area behind Savory Street, Curley said, had been heavily mined in the past. Accurate maps, however, are lacking, he said. The drilling will help DEP officials piece together an underground map of the area.

"These guys should be out of here by the end of next week," Curley said of the three Kimball workers on scene Friday morning.

The drill can reach depths of 50 feet and struck both water and coal on Friday, according to Dave Minnear, project manager with Kimball.

Minnear told The Republican-Herald the project boils down to "trying to figure out what someone did 150 years ago," referring to underground mining.

DEP first took on the problem in the 1970s, with a repair job that held until 2005. That year, water blew through the surface and flooded Savory Street. Subsequent attempts to repair it, neighbors have said, only made the problem worse.

Curley said there is no time frame for completion of the project.

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