After evacuating its Blacksville No. 2 mine near Wayne Township in Greene County, Pa., on March 12 following a report of smoke in the Orndoff shaft, Consol Energy announced yesterday that its plan to re-enter the mine has been approved by state, federal, and union officials.
Re-entry is scheduled to begin Wednesday at 7 a.m. if all atmospheric monitoring continues to indicate it is safe to do so. Blacksville No. 2 Mine produces approximately 400,000 tons of coal per month.
After identifying the general location of the fire that caused the smoke, all 121 underground employees were safely evacuated through the mine's Kuhntown portal. Consol's steps to contain and extinguish the fire included pumping water into the mine to complete a water seal and pumping in eight "isolation walls" to cut off oxygen.
The process was completed March 24 and analysis of continuous mine atmosphere readings indicates that gas levels remain steady and oxygen levels continue to decrease, Consol said. As a result, Consol believes the fire has been successfully extinguished.
Consol's senior vice president Chuck Shaynak said, "I am extremely proud of the successful collaborative effort from federal and state agencies, the UMWA, contractors, vendors, and our employees on site who worked around-the-clock to remotely extinguish a fire in less than twelve days. Without their efforts, we would not be where we are today. Most importantly, we accomplished all of the work without an injury."
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