Pa. Mining Company Fined $1.2 Million to Repair Damage to Greenhouses and Land

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has ordered Eighty Four Mining Co. to pay Hothouse Floral Co. almost $1.2 million to repair mine subsidence damage to various structures on Hothouse Floral Co.'s property in North Strabane and South Strabane townships, and for land damages that have caused drainage problems on the property.

The damages were caused by the Eighty Four Mining Co.'s Mine No. 84, a longwall mining operation that undermined Hothouse Floral Co.'s property in 1997 and 1998. Consol Energy owns Eighty Four Mining Co. Hothouse Floral is owned and operated by Eugene and Cheryl Hudock.

"We understand this has been a very difficult and painful experience for the Hudocks as they've tried to continue their retail nursery business while dealing with the ramifications of the damage caused by Mine No. 84," said DEP's California District Mining Manager, William S. Plassio. "The department takes into consideration such things as the extent of damages, current building codes and the requirements set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act when establishing estimates for these types of cases. In addition, in this case, our staff members went to extraordinary measures to review thoroughly the costs of what it would take to repair the damage to the surface structures on the northern and southern portions of the Hudocks' property, and they included the opinions of an outside consultant in their review."

The amount to be paid by Eighty Four Mining Co. also includes about $27,000 in reimbursement for relocation costs incurred by the Hudocks, and $270,590 for repairing and regrading land. The total order is $1,175,851.

The Hudocks own and operate 16 large structures including greenhouses, growing facilities and a large retail area and several smaller structures on two different sections of land, the northern and southern properties. All of the buildings are essentially pole buildings with either wood framing or tubular metal arches and plastic sheathing material forming the roof and sides. The only exception is a wooden pole building with corrugated metal roofing on the southern property.

The damages on the southern property occurred in late November and early December 1997, while the damages on the northern property occurred in early December 1998. In addition, the undermining caused deterioration to the water drainage off both portions of land, with the more serious drainage problems existing in the southern section.

Eighty Four Mining Co. made several offers over the years to pay for the damages based on DEP estimates, but the Hudocks rejected those offers. When establishing the current estimate contained in the orders issued this week, DEP considered estimates made by a greenhouse specialist retained by the Hudocks and thoroughly reviewed both the damages and the Hudocks' estimates of additional expenses they incurred as a result of the damages. Eighty Four Mining Co. has 60 days to comply with the orders.

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