EAST SPRINGFIELD - It was a simple walk in the dark for a mine rescue team that traversed the 400-foot long culvert at the former Jensie Mine off county Road 75 on Monday.
But the crew found something that hadn't been discovered before - a smaller culvert that may be contributing to the acid mine drainage at the headwaters of Wolf Run.
The mine rescue team from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management, took a camera into the culvert and took measurements of the exact location of feeder culverts.
INTO THE CULVERT — A mine rescue team from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources prepared to enter a 400-foot long culvert at the former Jensie Mine off county Road 75, East Springfield, on Monday as part of a training exercise and an exploratory effort to determine how acid mine drainage is getting into the culvert.
-- Mark Law
The acid mine drainage temporarily spoils the overall quality of the Yellow Creek Watershed, and state officials are in process of working on ways to eliminate the acid mine drainage, said Maggie Corder, Yellow Creek Watershed coordinator with the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District.
Hank Brummer, a state natural resources engineer, said a two-phase project is being designed for the Jensie Mine.
The first, set to begin in the fall, is to dig up the 400 feet of culvert and refill the area. The second phase is to determine how to treat the acid mine drainage suspected of coming out of a nearby gob pile, which is the residual material from coal mining. Pine trees were planted along the edge of the gob pile in an effort to improve the pH level of the water and soil.
The Jensie Mine once was a deep shaft mine that is recognized by ODNR as the deepest in Ohio at 480 feet below the surface.
Once underground mining operations ceased, the ground above was strip mined.
Jeff Sabo, ODNR mine rescue operations supervisor, said area coal mines have miners that are members of a mine rescue team. The miners undergo 96 hours of training a year.
The miners, who came from the Rosebud Mining Co., Tusky Mine in Tuscarawas County, wore special breathing packs because it wasn't known if there would be enough oxygen halfway through the 400-foot culvert.
Sabo said the breathing packs can keep a miner safe underground for up to four hours because it scrubs out the bad air and injects oxygen into the mask.
ODNR mine rescue teams have four trucks throughout the state that can be at a mine disaster in one hour or less.
Scott Corder, mine rescue coordinator, said each truck has the equipment needed for mine rescue, with the miners reporting to the scene, similar to a volunteer firefighter.
Adam Taggart of Jewett said he has worked at the Tusky Mine for Rosebud Mining for the past two and one-half years. He didn't seem too impressed with the danger involved in walking 400 feet through a 5-foot high metal culvert.
"It was just a wet pipe. The air was good all the way through but you can't see the light at either end," he said.
In the end, Brummer thanked the miners and the state support staff for the work done because it gives him valuable information in trying to correct the orange water spoiling the creek.
(Law can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)