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Abandoned mine sites can appear as an inviting rough and rugged playground. Piles of coal waste, abandoned buildings, water impoundments, large abandoned equipment, and mine openings can attract young and old alike. These are all potentially dangerous sites and visitation is greatly discouraged.
Sometimes an abandoned mine site will pose an imminent threat to public health and safety. Examples include a sudden collapse of an underground mine that creates a sink hole; an open shaft discovered by a hunter or farmer that is overgrown with vegetation; abandoned buildings that may look right for hide and seek; or, a fire in an old mine or gob pile. The Emergency Program was established to provide immediate assistance to secure the area from public access and mitigate the problem, generally within a few days. If the site poses imminent public safety concerns, local emergency responders should be called first. These might include police, fire department, conservation officers or other emergency personnel. Division of Reclamation staff may not be readily available and are not authorized, trained or equipped to perform police or emergency personnel functions such as: evacuations, road closures, or declaration of medical emergencies.
Citizens who are aware of a hazardous mine condition should call the Division of Reclamation office at 1-800-772-6463 (within Indiana) or 812-665-2207. A staff member will survey the problem to determine if the condition was caused by, or is the result of an abandoned coal mine. A private contractor may be contacted to eliminate the imminent danger. Reclamation work may be deferred for further design and engineering, depending on the severity of the problem. Damages caused by an active coal mining operation are the responsibility of the mining company.
Structural damage from abandoned mine works falls under the Mine Subsidence Insurance Program. Contact your homeowners insurance agent for more information on Mine Subsidence Insurance. Learn more on how to protect your home from damage caused by old underground coal mines.