Pennsylvania Pays Out Nearly $1.5 Million for Quecreek Mine Rescue Costs

Jan. 6, 2003
Ever wonder what a mine rescue costs? In the case of the Quecreek Mine rescue in Pennsylvania last year, the cost of the rescue amounted to millions.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has paid nearly $1.5 million to 56 vendors as reimbursement for the expenses they incurred during the successful Quecreek Mine rescue in July 2002, according to Gov. Mark Schweiker. The reimbursement is part of $2 million in federal funds secured by Rep. John Murtha (D, Pa.) to cover the uninsured costs of the rescue operation.

An additional $517,019 will be sent to PBS Coals Inc. of Friedens, Somerset County, to reimburse the company for the payments it already made to vendors for the rescue. PBS Coals Inc. is the parent company of Quecreek Mining Inc., which contracted with Black Wolf Coal Co. to operate the Quecreek Mine.

"Without the assistance of these companies who provided equipment and expertise for the rescue at the Quecreek Mine, we would not have been successful," said Schweiker. "Now we are making good on our promise to reimburse them for the costs they incurred without hesitation to help the nine men trapped in that mine."

The vendors are located throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey and contributed personnel as well as drills, pumps, generators and other equipment throughout the 77-hour rescue operation in Somerset County.

The checks paid to the vendors range from $49.60 to Shannon Safety Products of Bridgeville, Allegheny County, for lost glasses, to $350,825 for Gene D. Yost and Son Inc. of Mount Morris, Greene County, which provided one of the drill rigs used for the rescue shafts.

A special interagency team was established in November to review the costs submitted by vendors to make sure they were legitimate and necessary. The team included staff from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Office of the Budget.

The funds were distributed through DEP to entities that submitted rescue-related bills to Black Wolf Coal Co. for reimbursement. The company lacked insurance for these types of claims and, therefore, has been unable to pay all of their rescue-related costs.

The accident occurred in July when the Quecreek miners inadvertently broke through to the abandoned Saxman Mine, unleashing a torrent of water that flooded the Quecreek Mine and prompted a multi-agency rescue effort that ultimately saved all nine miners.

To view a summary detailing the amounts paid to each vendor, visit the www.state.pa.us, and click on keyword "Quecreek."

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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