It's a $15-billion problem in the commonwealth. Coal mines stripped, used, then abandoned. One site in Schuylkill County is finally coming back to life.
For years, the 10-acre site near Balsam Street in Delano Township was a dangerous reminder of the past. Officials say it was strip-mined for anthracite coal back in the 1940s, then abandoned.
"Until the 1977 law, a coal company could essentially walk away and leave the site behind," explained Pa. Senator Dave Argall. "That's no longer allowed."
Reclaiming this mine took close to a year and nearly $200,000. According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the site was a priority because homes are so close by.
Hazardous high walls and 30 to 60 foot pits were all leveled and the eyesore removed.
"We have planted grass and we've also planted trees," John Stefanko with the DEP described. "As the site matures, it will provide better habitat for the wildlife on the site."
"This is something that the community can use in the future rather than just an unsightly, dangerous pit at the end of town," added Argall.
A local hunting and fishing club owns the property, and it can now be used for recreation.
This project, and the clean-up of dozens of other old mines across Pennsylvania, is funded by the federal government.
"There is a tax on coal companies that is used to clean up the old abandoned, what we call the pre-1977 sites," Argall says.