Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Feature: Rock - Water - Air: A Personal Account Of The 2002 Quecreek Mine Rescue

By David Hess, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection at the Time of the Rescue

On the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Quecreek Mine Rescue, I thought it would be appropriate to write an account of the rescue operation from my perspective as Secretary of Department of Environmental Protection.
This is the first-time I put this very personal story of such a public event down on paper.  
I wanted to do it in part so the details don’t get lost in the future, but, more importantly, to also express how incredibly proud I am of the job the men and women of DEP did on those four hot July days 15 years ago to bring about the safe rescue of the nine miners at Quecreek.
From those in Deep Mine Safety handling the details of the rescue itself, to the water quality staff dealing with the millions of gallons of water being pumped out of the mine, our communications staff who worked around the clock with the unprecedented world-wide media attention and even our summer interns who got the experience of a lifetime, it was an outstanding example of public employees doing our jobs.  
Hundreds of people from DEP and other state agencies were involved, working along with our federal counterparts and the entire Somerset community, to achieve a single goal, knowing, the entire time, the odds were not on our side.
What follows is my story of how we all converged on the Arnold Farm in Somerset County 15 years ago and were witness to what I can only call a miracle.
Click Here to read the whole story.

Thank You: My thanks to Gov. Mark Schweiker, Joe Sbaffoni, David La Torre and Bill Arnold for providing comments on this article in draft and for remembering some details I was hazy on after 15 years.

(Photos by Commonwealth Media Services and the Department of Environmental Protection.)

David Hess is now a partner in the Harrisburg-based government affairs firm Crisci Associates.  He can be contacted by sending email to: DHess@CrisciAssociates.com or by calling 717-576-0420.

Related Links:
-- Click Here to watch a video produced by the Commonwealth Media Services documenting the critical decisions made during the rescue effort.
-- Click Here for the DEP Commemorative Booklet “Nine for Nine” with lots of photos from each phase of the rescue and the names of key DEP players.
-- Click Here for the DEP Timeline Of The Quecreek Mine Rescue.
-- Click Here for details on this year’s 15th Anniversary Community Celebration from July 27 to 29 at the Quecreek Mine Rescue site in Somerset.

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