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Mine Subsidence Article

Reprinted with permission

DEP sends mailers to Pleasant Hills residents about mine subsidence

By Dona S. Dreeland
Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

The state Department of Environmental Protection plans to notify 2,000 Pleasant Hills households about potential mine subsidence.

The mailer will direct residents online at to find out more about mine subsidence and the need to purchase insurance, DEP said.

Pleasant Hills was chosen as the first community in the state to receive the notices "because most of the borough is undermined," the state agency said in an announcement Tuesday.

Much of the South Hills sits atop abandoned mines, said John Poister, DEP spokesman. More than one million buildings in Pennsylvania are estimated to have been constructed over mines from the 1800s and 1900s. Still, "Under 60,000 homes statewide are insured for mine subsidence," he said.

Over time, coal pillars and wood supports in old underground mines rot, he said, and ground settling causes building foundations to shift and walls to buckle.

"So much of Pleasant Hills is undermined," said Deb Englert, borough manager. "You hate paying for (the insurance), but if you need it ..."

DEP representatives visited the borough building last week to tell Englert about the mailers, noting that insurance prices are down and there is a senior citizens' discount.

Current monthly premiums cost about 55 cents for every $1,000 of coverage. The insurance has been offered to Pennsylvania residents for more than 30 years, Poister said.

"We are eager to get the word out," he said. "You can cover a house for less than $100 a year. It's good peace of mind."

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