Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Pike County Looking For Way To Solve Abandoned Mine Blowout Issue.

The threat of deep mine blowouts such as those recently occurring at Grapevine and in the Virgie area are taken seriously by the Pike County Fiscal Court.

This was proven during the court’s regular meeting on Tuesday, June 3, when Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford cited a proposed study that could see funding handed out for work in solving this volatile threat.

When coal is extracted from deep mines, the remaining voids often fill with water. One side of the mine naturally dip with geologic formations and the lower side collects substantial amounts of water. This water is under pressure created by the water stored at higher elevations. The “down dip” as it is referred to becomes saturated with water, the water pressure continues to build eventually leading to a blowout.

“As you know, we are prone to mine blowouts in this county,” Rutherford told concerned citizens attending Tuesday’s meeting. “This is nothing new. Millions of gallons have accumulated in deep mines and threaten the well-being of residents all across this county.”

Rutherford said that, with this in mind, a request for funding has already been proposed to identify major blowout threats and to then seek funding to eliminate these threats.

“We felt as a court we should seek this funding,” Rutherford continued. “We’re very hopeful that this will be made available and we can take care of this dangerous problem.”

The county’s proposal, which tags deep mine blowouts as “hidden threats,” was informally presented to concerned citizens during Tuesday’s meeting as residents of Grapevine urged the fiscal court members to take some action.

Rutherford assured the public that many steps have been taken in finding a solution. Among these steps have been letters seeking support sent from the county to Steve Hohmann, Director of Abandoned Mine Lands, U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers and Adam Edelen, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.

In addition to the letters, county officials have compiled a packet complete with photographs of both the Grapevine and Virgie deep mine blowouts and a three-phase proposed study, including estimated costs.

Phase 1 of the study would afford officials secure mapping of all underground mine works in the county seam at an estimated cost of $200,000.

Phase 2 would entail field surveys of the potential sites during which water samples would be collected at seeps and analyzed at a cost of $120,000.

Site monitoring, instrumentation and dewatering plans make up the bulk of the Phase 3 stage. Sites that are determined to have a high potential for blowout will have instrumentation installed for monitoring outflow, according to the study. Costs for this phase are estimated at $170,000.

As recently as today, Wednesday, June 4, Rutherford has already been contacted back by Steve Hohmann with the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands.

“Mr. Hohmann has written us back with interest and asked that we plan a visit to further discuss options with him,” Rutherford said Wednesday. “So in the near future we will talk with Mr. Hohmann and have hopes that this meeting will further the success of seeing funding for this plan secured.”

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