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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tests Indicate Low Levels Of Hydrogen Sulfide Near Mine Fire In Carbon County

DEP Completes First Round of Monitoring Near Carbon County Mine Fire

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has completed a first round of air quality monitoring near the Jeansville mine fire in Banks Township, Carbon County. Initial air quality results do not indicate an actionable level of gases near the fire. However DEP will continue monitoring with more sensitive detection equipment for hydrogen sulfide to ensure the safety of nearby communities.

On several days in the vicinity of Tresckow and north of the mine fire, the Department detected low levels of hydrogen sulfide. A very low level of carbon monoxide was also detected one day. The levels were near the lower detection limit of the instrument and not at a level that requires action. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that can emit an odor of rotten eggs; carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless.

In response to the detections, the Department has acquired a more sensitive instrument that can detect hydrogen sulfide at much lower levels. The instrument will be put into use the week of July 6.

“The Department believes these actions will better characterize levels of hydrogen sulfide in the surrounding communities,” said Mike Bedrin, director of DEP’s Northeast Regional Office. “This is another way to respond to residents’ concerns about air quality near the mine fire.”

Since April, DEP specialists have conducted 16 monitoring events near the mine fire. All other gas readings, such as sulfur dioxide and oxygen, were at background levels.

In addition to the air monitoring, drilling of exploratory holes to gather data on the fire site is progressing. It is anticipated that exploratory drilling will move into an area near protected long-eared bat habitat next week. A Declaration of Emergency from the federal Office of Surface Mining allows work to be done on areas near the bat habitat.

Odor complaints and concerns should be called into the Department’s 24-hour complaint line at 570-820-4854 or 1-800-541-2050. Department personnel will respond to odor complaints beyond normal working hours.

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