ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Officials say water from an abandoned mine is gushing through a neighborhood in Elizabeth Township.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is on the scene. The water is flowing into the Youghiogheny and Monongahela rivers.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan reports the water was built up in a mine, describing it as an underground lake that is normally discharged into the rivers through a drainage pipe which had been clogged.
State workers from the DEP came to the area to unclog it after neighbors complained the water was seeping into their homes.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke to a representative from the DEP’s abandoned mine office.
“And we usually clean once a year – this year here we got here – we were a little too late I guess,” Dave Hochstein, with the DEP, said. “It got blocked more than usual and we had all this water over the last couple weeks. It really built up that mine pool.
“So we went up into the pipe – it actually started cleaning the pipe. The pipe is clean now, but it’s running down here and coming out a manhole and it’s making more water than the manhole can take right now,” he explained.
With hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated water flowing into the rivers, some are concerned about drinking water.
“It would be a threat if it reached the intakes and if the water authority didn’t know about it, but the water authority has been notified and we don’t think it’s going to be able to reach the intakes down at McKeesport,” Rick Balough, with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, said.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan says there is a large slick going into the Youghiogheny and into the Monongahela.
Officials say this is the water that would normally be discharged from the mine; however, it does have heavy iron content.
Environmentalists have been concerned over the years about acid mine runoff and would like this water to be treated and to have treatment plants at the Mon and Yough rivers.