EPA to Test Emergency Response for Butler Mine Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a five-day training exercise beginning April 26 in the Susquehanna River adjacent to Pittston City, Pa., to test the emergency response system for the Butler Mine Tunnel Superfund site.

During the exercise, contractors will use work boats, a small barge, and several hundred feet of orange containment boom. The Pittston City Riverfront Park will not be accessible for public use during the exercise (April 26-30).

The Butler Mine Tunnel, built in the 1930s as a collection and discharge point for mine drainage from a five-square-mile area of underground coal mines, was placed on EPA’s Superfund list in 1987 following incidents in 1979 and 1985, when an oily discharge from the tunnel flowed into the Susquehanna River near Pittston City.

To help minimize the impact of discharges from the tunnel, EPA required construction of a containment/collection system that could be deployed in the river in the event of a future spill as well as a monitoring system to monitor tunnel flows and severe weather patterns that could impact flow levels. These facilities, completed in 2005, were originally tested during a spring 2007 training exercise. This week’s training exercise is a follow up to the 2007 activity to ensure that spill prevention and emergency response measures are in place.

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