The Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation Friday announced work will begin next week to determine the extent and intensity of the Jeansville Mine fire; located on both active and abandoned mine lands in Banks Township, Carbon County and Hazle Township, Luzerne County.
A plan is also in place to do additional air monitoring in areas around the fire.
The work involves drilling 53 boreholes at the site to help determine the extent of the fire and provide ongoing monitoring.
BAMR received a Declaration of Emergency from the federal Office of Surface Mining. The emergency declaration was needed to work on portions of the observed fire area and surrounding areas that are also a protected long eared bat habitat.
“This work will give us a clearer picture of the extent of the fire and help to determine the most effective next steps,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Active and Abandoned Mine Operations, John Stefanko.
Representatives from BAMR, the Pottsville District Mining Office, and DEP’s Air Quality Program met with residents on May 20 to discuss plans for exploration of the fire and for air monitoring at the site. Previously conducted air monitoring did not show indications of any dangerous levels of gases in the neighborhoods around the fire.
“When DEP representatives met with residents, one of their chief concerns was overnight air monitoring,” said Director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office, Mike Bedrin. “Additional air monitoring will determine if any dangerous levels of gases are present.”
The property is owned by Pagnotti Enterprises of Wilkes-Barre. Hazleton Shaft Corporation, currently leasing the portion of the property that is actively being mined, has been extinguishing the fire within the permitted area since 2012.
DEP awarded the emergency drilling contract to Minichi Enterprises, Inc. of Dupont, Luzerne County; the company was the lowest bidder at $1,211,530.The project is being funded by Pennsylvania’s federal abandoned mine land grant, which is subsidized by the coal industry via fees paid on each ton of coal mined. In 2015 Pennsylvania received $44 million from the federal program to support DEP’s abandoned mine land and acid mine drainage reclamation programs.