Wetness delays coal seam drilling project
Post Independent Staff
Hellish, smoky coal seams located beneath the steep slopes of South Canyon will remain “un-holey” for the time being.
A Colorado Department of Natural Resources project aimed at drilling holes into the wall of the mountainside will be delayed because of excessive wetness on the slopes.
“The hill’s too muddy,” Division of Minerals and Geology project manager Steve Renner said on Thursday. “It’s just holding so much moisture that it’s phenomenally sloppy.”
Renner and his crew of four built a road up the west wall of the canyon so heavy equipment could reach places where burning coal seams ” which are areas of underground coal that are on fire ” creep toward the surface. Burning coal at South Canyon sparked the Coal Seam Fire in 2002.
“We tried to get a dozer up there on Tuesday, and it started sliding down,” Renner said.
After seeing that, Renner decided that the current conditions make it too dangerous to undertake the project.
“It made sense to me to have the guys take their stuff home,” he said.
Although the project has hit a snag, Renner said he could remobilize his crew either in midwinter when the ground is frozen solid, or in the spring when things dry out. Either way, Renner said he hopes to have the project done by the end of March.
“The plan is to drill down into the coal seams,” he said.
Around 20 holes will be drilled to try and figure out where the coal mines were located and which portions of these long-abandoned mines are afire.
“This particular project is just designed to find out what’s going on underground,” Renner said.
The next project planned for the area is to try to extinguish the burning coal.
“We’re going to try and figure out some way to put out the fires,” Renner said. “I hope to start that sometime in the spring of 2004.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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