State To Begin Mine Subsidence Work

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PITTSTON -- A $2.4 million project is expected to start soon in part of Luzerne County plagued by mine subsidences.

Contractors using rollers to repave Mill Street in Pittston say they are surprised to hear that the asphalt they just put down could soon be drilled through.

The Department of Environmental Protection says a $2.4 million project will start next month to drill 53 exploratory boreholes into abandoned coal mines.

"Fill them in with this concrete that is flowable, that is like sand but can absorb water and hold it steady so the water doesn't flow," said DEP spokesperson Colleen Connolly.

Connolly says most holes will be drilled in people's yards, but several may need to go through Mill Street.

There have been more than 150 subsidences reported in Pittston over the past decade, including one in 2007 when a subsidence opened up under Mary Lou Callaio's home. She says that was the second time that the ground gave way.

"We heard a sound in the cellar.  My husband went down and there was no cellar there. We lost our cellar, we lost the foundation, we lost part of the yard and it was a 40 foot hole," Callaio said.

She says several truckloads of concrete were dumped into the hole under her home.

Although Mill Street has just being repaved, Callaio says she wouldn't mind more work on Mill Street if it makes her community safer.

"Anything to keep the houses stable, that's my biggest issue. I want to know that we have some stability."

Connolly says the boreholes should prevent future subsidences but there's no permanent fix.

"What we're hoping to do is eliminate some of that fear, minimize the risk of subsidence and hopefully these people can feel better living up there, living above abandoned coal mines."

The project will be paid for with fees that coal companies must pay to operate in Pennsylvania.


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