Mining in South Park: not worth doing

Published Nov 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm (Updated Nov 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm)

Drilling in South Park is “completely off the table,” according to Dave Buchewicz, chairman of the Friends of South Park.

At a meeting Nov. 20, the council of the Friends of South Park decided unanimously to not pursue mining at the South Park Fairgrounds Oval.

“Yes, the Council of Friends supported the recommendation of County Manager Willie McKain not to mine the coal in the Oval,” Buchewicz said.

County Council member-elect Sue Means said County Executive Rich Fitzgerald attended the Friends meeting and said it was determined that there were about 60,000 tons of coal in the oval. However, the coal seam was much deeper than originally thought. Means said the coal is about 55 feet underground, significantly deeper than the five feet it had previously been estimated.

“The net value of the coal, if mined, would be only $300,000 to Allegheny County,” Buchewicz said. “The request for proposal was a good thing since the risks and rewards were measured and mining coal in the Oval was found to be not worth doing.”

Means said if coal was to be mined the “very elaborate drainage system” under the field would have had to be disturbed. She said that system is estimated to be worth about $1 million.

“Everyone was very happy and relieved,” Means said, but added there are still “so many buildings that need to be repaired.”

“We’re trying to think of creative ways to raise funds,” Means said.

“I believe the matter is completely off the table and the plan to improve the Oval will take place in 2014 without any mining,” Buchewicz said.

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