Tuesday, March 31, 2020

DEP: Emergency Work To Stabilize Hillside Affecting Abandoned Mine Land In Allegheny County To Begin

On March 31, the Department of Environmental Protection announced it has authorized an emergency contract to stabilize a hillside threatening a home in Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County. 
The earth movement is uphill of and affecting an abandoned mine land (AML) reclamation project DEP undertook in 2011.
The emergency contracting authorization allows DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation to immediately gather estimates and choose the most qualified bidder to begin the work to eliminate a landslide and convey stormwater from the site. 
DEP expects work will begin mid-April and will take about four months to complete.
This project includes construction of an access road to the slide and rock quarry disposal site, clearing a wooded portion of the hillside to do the work, removal of 10,000-15,000 cubic yards of loose material on the hillside, installation of drainage structures to convey stormwater runoff from the site to reduce the risk of future slides, as well as grading and reseeding to restore the site.
The hillside material consists of spoils from an abandoned limestone quarry that was placed on top of refuse from the historic mining activity in the Pittsburgh and Redstone coal seams. 
Stormwater runoff saturated the hillside leading to instability and slides. DEP attributes this and the record number of emergency projects it has encountered over the last three years to high levels of precipitation coupled with more frequent freeze-thaw cycles.
Funding for this and other emergency abandoned mine lands projects throughout the state comes from annual AML grants from the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement which are supported by the active mining industry through a fee on coal mined across the country. 
It was recently announced Pennsylvania will receive less funding this year, which could delay or downsize future projects.
In order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, contractors will be advised to follow social distancing while performing this emergency work.
Visit DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation webpage to learn more about abandoned mine reclamation in Pennsylvania.
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[Posted: March 31, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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