By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
Mine grouting work is set to begin Nov. 4 at the Jackson Addition area in Fairmont, and will likely take a year to complete, Fairmont City Manager Jay Rogers said.
Grouting is the process of filling voids left by abandoned mines with substances like cement or fly ash. The grouting project is being done by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) through a contract with Howard Concrete and Pumping.
City Planner Kathy Wyrosdick said that while the city of Fairmont is not actively involved in the project, the DEP has consulted with the city to try to make the project as unobtrusive as possible to the everyday lives of area residents.
“We are trying to work closely with the DEP to make it as easy a process on everyone as possible,” Wyrosdick said.
“There was quite a bit of mining done at the Jackson Addition,” she said. “The grouting project will mainly impact the homes east on Maple Avenue from Windmill Park back toward the river.”
Abandoned mine voids can be found under homes, and without grouting, some homes face structural damage.
“You can have subsidence, where properties settle on the mines, and if the voids don’t hold, there’s the potential for structural damage,” Wyrosdick said.
The DEP will be grouting mine voids beneath approximately 100 structures in the Jackson Addition area. The $6 million DEP project is estimated to take one year to complete. Because of the scale of the project, there will be a “mini-plant” set up at the back of Windmill Park.
The location was chosen, Wyrosdick said, because it will allow the work vehicles to come and go from the site with minimal impact on resident traffic.
“Old plans had put the plant over on Maple Avenue, which would have meant 25 trucks a day,” Wyrosdick said. This location will avoid that issue, instead taking trucks on less-trafficked roads.
There will be a 40-foot small movable silo at the back of Windmill Park, in use for the duration of the project. The project wil begin by setting up the temporary plant.
Area residents should be sure their septic system is hooked up to the city system, and that storm drains and sewage lines aren’t illegally dumping into the mine voids, Rogers said.
“You are obligated to be hooked into the sanitary system,” Rogers said. “This is a good time to make sure.”
“We don’t know if it’s happening or where. Howard Concrete has told us chances are it will happen with someone,” Wyrosdick said. “The chance is that a new homeowner may not even know they are dumping into the void.”
“Concrete isn’t going to stop until it’s filled the void, which could mean your pipes or basement,” Wyrosdick said.
If residents are unsure whether they are hooked up to the city sewage system, Wyrosdick suggests they hire a plumber to check their lateral line.
“The typical way of testing is visually with a camera or dye test,” she said.
For most residents, this shouldn’t be a concern, and if they are legally hooked up, they shouldn’t have an issue, Wyrosdick said.
This project will ultimately be good for the area, Wyrosdick said.
“This is a very worthwhile and needed project,” she said. “To stabilize the area so that homeowners have a level of comfort, and so banks and financial institutions have a level of comfort that the houses are stable, I think that’s important.”
Email Colleen S. Good at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.