HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell joined the nine miners from the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County in an event commemorating the 15th anniversary of the historic rescue.
“The rescue of these men is one DEP’s, and Pennsylvania’s, finest moments,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “I am proud of the work that DEP staff did to bring these men home to their families, and even more proud of the efforts DEP has taken since to ensure that we don’t have miners at risk.”
On July 24, 2002, sections of the Quecreek Mine in Lincoln Township began rapidly filling with water, trapping nine miners. Thanks to the efforts of DEP staff, along with federal Mine Safety and Health administration staff and officials from the Black Wolf Coal company, all nine men were safely rescued after a harrowing ordeal lasting more than three days.
After the rescue, DEP and the PA Legislature took steps to improve mine worker safety by expanding safety precautions and thoroughly reviewing and expanding mapping data to identify potential hazards before they could threaten worker safety. These efforts include the creation of the Board of Coal Mine Safety, increased buffers between mines to prevent flooding, and the Mine Families First Response and Communications Advisory Council, which helps the families of miners in an emergency like the Quecreek rescue.
“The Quecreek rescue was a heroic effort that I hope never has to be repeated in any of Pennsylvania’s coal mines,” said Sec. McDonnell. “Thanks to the actions and work that DEP and the legislature have taken since the rescue, we can make sure mine workers are going home to their families every night.”