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 Post subject: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:30 am 
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Legislator wants action on mine fires

Kevin Haggerty wants Luzerne, Lackawanna counties declared disaster areas

January 30. 2014 11:41PM

By Andrew M. Seder - aseder@civitasmedia.com.

HOW MINE FIRES OCCUR

Since coal is a burnable resource, the slightest contact with a flame can ignite a vein that will continue burning as long as the vein continues. Veins can run more than 200 feet deep and miles long. Often one vein will run into another, keeping the fire going.


OLYPHANT — Coal heated up the Lackawanna and Wyoming valleys’ job market decades ago, and today it’s still making the region hot as no fewer than eight underground mine fires are burning from Carbondale to Newport Township.


The issue has not been taken seriously enough by the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to Rep. Kevin Haggerty, D-Dunmore, and officials in Olyphant, where one of the fires has been burning for nearly a decade.


During a public meeting Haggerty organized in Olyphant on Thursday, he said he has written a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett urging him to declare Luzerne and Lackawanna counties “disaster areas” so federal and state funding could be freed up to help extinguish the fires.


Three of those fires, all in Luzerne County, are designated as serious by the state Department of Environmental Protection, meaning occupied structures are less than 1,000 feet away. The other five are classified as moderate, meaning occupied structures are at least 1,000 feet away.


DEP has given official names to the fires. According to DEP files, the eight burning in Lackawanna or Luzerne counties are:


• Ball Field East, Newport Township. Serious.


• Mordecai, in Laurel Run. Serious.


• Sturdevant-Metcalf, in Laurel Run. Serious.


• Dolph, in Olyphant. Moderate.


• Hanover Reservoir, Hanover Township. Moderate.


• Powderly Creek Northeast, in Carbondale. Moderate.


• Summit Gardens, in Carbondale. Moderate.


• Warrior Gap, Warrior Run. Moderate.


DEP Northeast Region spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said the agency is aware of the fires and “we’re working on design plans for some and funding for others, but these things take time.”


Time, said Haggerty, is something neighbors of these fires do not have. For years — decades in some cases — these coal seams have continued to burn. But the state and federal governments have yet to formulate a final plan to address extinguishing the public health hazards, he said.


Standing inside the Eureka Hose Company, less than a mile from the fire designated by DEP as “Dolph,” Haggerty called for funding to help extinguish the fires while imploring the governor and federal government to recognize the health and safety hazards.


“We have seen what happened in places such as Centralia, where we let an underground mine fire get out of hand,” Haggerty said, referring to the Columbia County town where a 1962 mine fire led the government to force almost all residents to leave by the early 1980s. Today, fewer than 10 remain and the fire continues to burn.


Connolly said that while she agrees the fires must be addressed, she believes the Centralia reference is an unfair comparison. “In these eight mine fires, in no way are we looking at a situation like Centralia,” she said.


She said cost estimates of getting the eight fires under control are still being figured out, but it’s “in the millions, many millions.” She said each fire could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to extinguish.


Olyphant Councilman Jerry Tully, who first discovered the Dolph fire, spoke at length about the negative impacts that particular fire has had on the borough, citing health, property value and economic development as examples. He said what could have been fixed with a $100,000 project nine years ago will now cost millions.


Valerie Caras, a spokeswoman for the governor, said “DEP is reaching out to the legislators and will discuss this issue further with them.”

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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:16 am 
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these things have been burning for years, I wonder why all the press all of a sudden. :?: interesting. would be good if they found a way to really extinguish them instead of just isolating them.

dolph fire at night right after it was discovered burning:


Image


dolph fire when they dug the first unsuccessful trench and went right through it:


Image

Image

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:54 am 
Wow. This guy has no idea what he wants done. Also, those pictures remind me of pictures you see of volcanoes.


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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:00 am 
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What's interesting, I guess you can call it, is the summit gardens fire in Carbondale. That is where the huge mine fire "was" years ago that was supposedly put out. That area has since been reclaimed and a high school built on top of it as well as these apartments. A guy I work with his daughter is a cheerleader for Carbondale and said the whole school stunk like suffer at last nights basketball game. Sounds like it got going again.....

Interesting article

http://m.thetimes-tribune.com/news/a-mi ... -1.1237758

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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 8:47 am 
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I have wondered if there could be a way to raise the water table enough to cool the fire and put it out either by building some small dams or some other means. It is my understanding that with some coal fires, the coal gets so hot that it can start "burning" without oxygen. In a case such as that simply depriving the fire of oxygen is useless. You have to cool the fire.

In addition to the environmental disaster that it is, it also seems like a terrible shame to see all that wonderful coal go to waste. There is also a fire burning out west in Colorado at the Vulcan Mine near Rifle, CO. It has been burning for decades and no one has any idea how to put it out. Amtrak runs by there on the other side of the valley and when I used to ride out West for Christmas when it was cold you could actually see some small "puffs" up on the mountain on the other side of the valley. There were also a few spots where snow would not lie on the ground - too hot! One of the Amtrak car attendants pointed this out onetime over the loudspeaker then later on, everytime I made a trip through there I'd watch for it.

In a mountain situation like that raising the water table would be impossible. What to do? Beats me.

Regards,
Fred M. cain


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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:07 am 
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Just in case anybody might be interested, here is a URL to a site that has info on the Vulcan Mine:

http://nwcoloradoheritagetravel.org/new ... -colorado/

I didn't exaggerate when I said the fire had been burning for "decades". It has now been burning for over 100 years ! I had the location wrong, though. It is New Castle, CO, not Rifle (although Rifle is not far from New Castle).

And, with "Miner Dave" in mind, here is another site on the Vulcan Mine that has a track map!

http://www.ghostdepot.com/rg/mainline/t ... castle.htm

Enjoy !

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:38 pm 
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Raising the pool won't work Fred. Pool dept is about even with the valley floor at the river, all fires are up on the hill on either side.

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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:47 am 
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Then I can't see anyway to put it out except wait until it finally, finally, finally runs out of fuel. That might take a while. Consider that the fire has been burning at the Vulcan Mine in Colorado since 1896. Yikes !

How can such a fire burn without oxygen? I learned in chemistry many years ago that when some molecules get hot enough, you start "breaking carbon chains" which in turn generates more heat. This keeps a chain-reaction going whereby Oxygen isn't needed. It also releases a lot of nasty gases and stuff. I have heard that every once and a great while, a vent will open at the surface and admit oxygen. Then long, orange flames will burst out. I read a few years ago where such a hole opened near the back end of a guy's farm!

There must also be a difference in the chemical composition of different coals. They were finally able to succeed in getting the infamous fire extinguished at the Cherry Mine in Illinois simply by depriving it of oxygen. But that has not worked in Centrailia or at the Vulcan Mine in Colorado.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:49 am 
Fred, it is like what makes charcoal. No oxygen, but it smolders.


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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:05 pm 
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Those pictures are insane.

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 Post subject: Re: Legislator wants action on mine fires
PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:08 pm 
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yea that was quite awhile ago, without looking it up i think it was 2006. neat pics. as you can imagine it was pretty hot.......


Simpson Mine Fire Feb 2014:


Attachments:
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photo 3.PNG [ 347.43 KiB | Viewed 4771 times ]
photo 2.PNG
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