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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pipe Burst Floods Mine; Home

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A clogged drainage pipe in an Elizabeth Township mine burst on Monday, sending water gushing into the air and damaging a nearby house.

The incident happened in the 2000 block of Douglas Run Road at about 12:15 p.m. According to initial reports, at least 10 inches of water was flooding the roadway at one time.

The Office of Surface Mining and the Department of Environmental Protection were at the scene earlier to check on a complaint that water from an underground pipe was seeping out of a hillside behind homes on the road.

Channel 11 News learned that during an attempt to unclog the pipe, which drains water from an old mine into the Youghiogheny River, the line burst, sending water flooding into the streets and into one home.

Bill Hinerman, who rents the home, said he lost everything in his basement. Hinerman was not home at the time of the incident.

"Someone called me and said I had water coming out of my basement, but it was going in my basement," said Hinerman.

Water was redirected and crews were able to pump the water out. Crews said no other homes were threatened by the water.

DEP officials said there is no threat of any contamination or environmental impact. However, an environmental attorney at the scene told Channel 11 it will take a while to find out the flood's long-term effects.

Neighbor Ed Cherepko said a similar problem with a different pipe in his yard has damaged his home.

"My house is ruined. I can't fix it. The whole house is shifted," Cherepko said.

Cherepko said his problems began seven years ago. He said the DEP has sent him letters about a solution, but so far nothing has been done to resolve the problem.

"I've got four, maybe five letters like this saying they're going to open the mines but nothing has ever happened," said Cherepko.

The road reopened to traffic late Monday night. Crews will continue repairs on Tuesday.

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