Reprinted with permission
Subsidence closes Pittston road
Scranton Times-Tribune (thetimes-tribune.com)
By JOE SYLVESTER
Published: Saturday, December 24, 2005
Updated: Saturday, December 24, 2005 1:00 AM EST
PITTSTON — The U.S. Office of Surface Mining will begin repairing a mine subsidence in the 100 bock of Mill Street next month to prevent more occurrences.
The agency is planning to fill a gaping hole — as wide as the street and as long as 20 feet — that is believed to have caused a sewer main to collapse.
The state Department of Transportation closed the 100 block of Mill Street to traffic this week, even though the project does not begin until Jan. 17.
“In the interim, it’s the prudent course of action,” said PennDOT spokesman Michael Cotter.
“Any area underlying with a coal mine, you have a danger of collapsing,” said Mick Kuhns of the OSM’s Wilkes-Barre office. “There is an increased potential. It hasn’t worked its way to the surface. PennDOT closed the road so it won’t have the weight of the vehicles going on it.”
Mill Street residents interviewed Friday seemed to take the closing in stride.
Joseph Mack, 49, who also has never had a subsidence in the 30 years he’s lived at 116 Mill St., said the closed road didn’t bother him because he still can get in and out.
He is not worried about a subsidence, either.
“You can’t do very much about it,” Mr. Mack said.
Mr. Kuhns said the repair project, which will cost an estimated $60,000, involves filling the underground subsidence through a manhole. The work is expected to take 20 days. OSM still has to do some preliminary work.
“Because the sewer line is collapsed, we want to have some sort of contingency with the city, something in written form, so we understand exactly how close to the bottom of the sewer line they want us to backfill,” Mr. Kuhns said.
The agency also needs right-of-entry approval from PennDOT and possibly a couple of neighbors in case OSM has to drill in their yards to monitor the work.
Mr. Kuhns said officials believe sewage is leaking into the underground mines, but officials did not see sewage in the break.
“There is some kind of a breach upstream,” he said.
The break in the 3-foot-diameter brick, tunnel-type sewer line also is believed to be the source of the gas that has been seeping into the basement of John and Mary Lou Callaio since July. Their basement collapsed in a mine subsidence two years ago. OSM repaired it. Officials know of no other homes on Mill Street where gas is leaking.
Officials have said there could be more than one break in the sewer main, which the city will repair.
OSM installed a $2,000 gas removal system in the Callaios’ basement in October. The device installed in the basement floor is designed to suck out the gas and draw it through tubing to the outside. Mrs. Callaio said the system seems to be working.
Methane is flammable and is the principal component in natural gas. However, the amount entering the Callaios’ home is lower than explosive levels, according to Mark Carmon of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
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