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 Post subject: Office of Surface Mining to close W-B location
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:20 am 
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Location: Anthracite Region of PA
A federal agency that dealt with mine fires and mine subsidences throughout the Anthracite Region for 34 years will close its office in Wilkes-Barre in September.

When the Office of Surface Mining leaves town, so will its collection of mine maps that guide engineers, land developers and even homeowners debating whether to buy insurance against mine cave-ins.

Mick Kuhns, who heads the Wilkes-Barre office where he worked for 26 years, said moving companies will submit bids to move the maps to OSM's office in Pittsburgh. Technicians in Pittsburgh can scan the maps and, perhaps, make them available online or on disc to the public.

"The day will come when you'll probably be able to access this from your computer," said Kuhns, who doesn't know yet what will be available and when.

Traditionally, the public has been able to walk into OSM's office in the Stegmaier Building and ask Kuhns and his staff how to find the maps they want and how to understand what the maps mean.

Kuhns said people shopping for homes, especially if they're moving into the Anthracite Region from elsewhere, are not always familiar with mining or maps.

"Many of the casual homeowners may not understand what they are looking at," Kuhns said.

Kuhns and his staff helped people understand the map's scale and symbols.

"We'll tend to interpret maps. We don't like to give advice. If somebody said, 'Do you think I should buy this house or take mine subsidence insurance?' we'll just give the facts. 'There's mining. It's this deep,'" Kuhns said.

He knows that subsidences are unpredictable but can be devastating.

When a subsidence severely damaged two homes in Drifton Estates in 2008, OSM led the weeks-long effort to stabilize the ground with stone, cement and other fill.

One of the homeowners had insurance, which is sold by the state, and was able to purchase another home outside the development. The other homeowners lacked insurance and paid a contractor to repair the damage to the home, where they resumed living.

For the last nine months, however, as part of a phase-out, OSM hasn't been in charge of responding to emergencies like what occurred in Drifton, a village in Hazle Township. Pennsylvania took over that responsibility while also receiving additional federal money for reclaiming abandoned mines.

The state Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, for example, filled in a sink hole that opened this March in the parking lot of Lobitz's Catering in Hazle Township.

Kuhns said he or other engineers and project managers, typically worked with their counterparts from BAMR, as the bureau is called.

"It's nice to go out with two people for safety and a second pair of eyes (to) see something the other person may not," he said.

When the OSM's office closes, the project managers, secretary and other workers will transfer to offices in Pittsburgh, Charleston, W.Va., or retire. Kuhns, an engineer, awaits word on a job he requested at OSM's headquarters in Washington.

Hazleton City Engineer John Ackerman said OSM had the most up-to-date maps of the Anthracite region, although the city has some mine maps of Hazleton.

BAMR has some maps, too.

Other maps are in private collections, such as one assembled by retired Hazleton City Engineer Joseph Michel.

From 2007 to 2010, Michel loaned several of his maps to OSM. They were transported to Pittsburgh and scanned.

"I got a nice letter from the director thanking me," said Michael, who indicated that his some of his maps are the oldest in the repository in Pittsburgh.

Even old maps continue to provide valuable information.

A surveyor recently needed to drill into a Hazleton area mine tunnel to sample the water.

"I took him out and showed him four monuments set in 1890. Based on that and the drawings, it showed where to drill," Michael said.

The drill broke through the roof of the tunnel 463 feet below ground, just as the maps indicated.

"That's the purpose - so people can use the stuff," Michael said.

kjackson@standardspeaker.com 570-455-3636

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:04 pm
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Location: WILKES-BARRE PA
yeah thats unfortunate :( good group of people there, and a good place for advice, just not on mine maps but historical data as well

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
bella, do you know whats going to happen to the library down there? seems its really gonna happen down there. this really is a bad idea closing osm. this is one of those situations that the govt. doesnt realize what its all about till its gone. theres no way they are going to be able to take care of this area from out pittsburgh way. the public is really going to suffer, good thing we have a good collection of mine maps, maybe we can help out :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:42 pm 
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im assuming the library will go over to DEP, long with maybe some other stuff, i dont think the collection is staying at pittsburgh, i think there just gonna scan everything and then it will all prolly go in storage

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:44 am 
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Funny tho. The maps were all already scanned. But not made available online.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:40 pm 
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
probably a server thing. its a huge file to view them at full resolution. prolly cost a bunch to host them all on line...... but then again its the gubmint, they know all about wasting money!!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:43 am 
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Location: WILKES-BARRE PA
they did lauch an online database, PHUMMIS Pennsylvanis Historic Underground Mine Map Inventory System......but I dont think its available to the public yet, and i think it only gives you the location of the map,

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:08 pm 
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Location: SW Indiana
Chris,

I think I'll be offended.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:51 pm 
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
ah, i worked for the feds for a month and a half, i know what its all about..... :roll:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:13 pm 
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Location: SW Indiana
That's about all I've worked for them.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:24 am 
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
haha, let me rephrase that. i was at the facility for a month and a half. i worked prolly 3 full days for them...... :roll:

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