Quecreek Report of Investigation
The United States Attorney's office had been conducting an independent investigation into the July 2002 inundation at the Quecreek Mine. In a May 24, 2004, letter from the law firm representing Consol Energy, Inc. (Consol) in the matter to Constance M. Bowden, Assistant United States Attorney, and a courtesy copy to MSHA, it was revealed that Consol had recently located a box of documents potentially related to the Quecreek incident.
contacted the law firm to inquire about the history of the documents and
received a letter dated
In the early to mid-1990s, Consol received a letter from the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it was conducting an investigation of
numerous mine water discharges into the
Personnel at Consol's offices assembled all files relating
to any past activities that may have caused discharges into the
3. During the spring of 2004, the attorney and employee originally involved with the boxes were archiving old documents for possible donation to educational institutions. It was then that the six boxes were remembered and were included in the list of documents to review for possible donation.
4. While reviewing the contents of the boxes, it was discovered that one box contained documents relating to the area involved in the Quecreek incident. Consol immediately informed the U.S. Attorney's office of the find.
The Consol attorney involved relayed that he had no reason
to believe that any of the boxes contained information that related in any way
to the Quecreek Mine.
His understanding was that the
investigation team examined the box of documents on
Inside the box were approximately 29 folders or loose maps. Each folder and map was examined to determine if the contents were related to the mine inundation incident. The majority of the folders and documents pertained to lease and seam information in and around the Somerset County, Pennsylvania, area. The following folders or documents were related to the Quecreek mine or to circumstances surrounding the incident.
1. Annual tonnage reports from J.E. Kimmel, Superintendent of the Saxman mine, to Pittsburgh Coal Company for the years 1954 to 1963. The reports indicate the tonnages mined from each property in the area of the Quecreek mine.
2. Tax reports for the years 1954 to 1961. These reports showed tonnages mined from various properties above the Quecreek mine.
4. Two detailed maps that when combined appear to show the entire Saxman mine. Handwritten on the outside-facing page in red ink of one of the maps is the following:
DO NOT DESTROY
Saxman (Consol. Coal)
C Seam (Up. Kittanning)
Print Rec d. June, 1964.
The second map
had slightly different, but in essence the same, wording. One of these maps was identical to the map
located by MSHA at the
5. Letter from C.H. Maize, Inspector for District 20 of Pennsylvania, to Pittsburgh Coal Company reminding them of the provisions in the bituminous mining law that up-to-date maps must be provided to the Department of Mines and to the Inspector of the District within 60 days of mine closure. This letter was regarding the closure of Consol's Mines 120 and 121.
Lease agreement between Consolidation Coal Company and Saxman Coal & Coke Company dated
of these documents reinforces MSHA's beliefs that personnel involved with the Saxman Coal & Coke Company's Harrison No. 2 Mine
performed the duties required of them pertaining to the providing of final mine
maps. In addition, the letter from the
have provided Musser Engineers and RoxCoal/PBS with
the final Harrison No. 2 Mine maps if they were aware that the maps were in
their possession. Consol was questioned about
their procedures for cataloging information received such as maps for abandoned
mines and their procedures for responding to requests for information. Their responses were in a letter dated
Consol responded that they were unable to determine a more specific history of the documents listed in this addendum that what has already been provided. They noted that they had no company-wide, single system for maintaining, filing, or indexing documents. Each department was responsible for implementing its own filing system. At any time, the types of documents listed in this addendum may have been located in various departments, at different office locations, in individual employee files, or in outside storage. They further stated that there was no definitive procedure for researching or providing information to outside entities that would ask for information such as maps of abandoned properties.
It is MSHA's conclusion that even if the maps had been at Consol's office when Musser Engineers and RoxCoal/PBS inquired for information, it would have been unlikely that the maps would have been provided. Without speaking to a person at Consol who had first hand knowledge of the maps and their whereabouts, it appears that no other person would have known of the maps.
In an effort to help prevent a similar incident, Consol reported that they have implemented a program to identify and locate historical information that is appropriate for donation to educational institutions. Other procedures for the filing, organization, or disposition of more recent information are being developed and/or refined.