IDNR: Middle school in Swansea sits over abandoned mine - KMOV.com

IDNR: Middle school in Swansea sits over abandoned mine

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Damage was reported at Wolf Branch Middle School due to ground movement .(Credit: KMOV) Damage was reported at Wolf Branch Middle School due to ground movement .(Credit: KMOV)

New details about the damage reported at Wolf Branch Middle School has now been discovered. 

Read: Swansea middle school closes cafeteria and gym after floors start to buckle

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) told News 4 the Wolf Branch Middle School property sits on the abandoned Summit Mine, which operated from 1894 to 1940.

“Based on observations Monday, the sag subsidence is impacting an area of about 3 acres,” according to the IDNR.

IDNR said it will monitor what’s happening until the movement stops or becomes very small.

“IDNR will be at the school daily in the short term and could be monitoring the site on a less frequent basis for several months. The Office of Mines and Minerals is procuring the services of a structural engineer to assist with assessing the damages to the School.”

Mine subsidence is a major issue across St. Clair County.

In fact the Illinois Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund (IMSIF) said St. Clair is the “most active of all counties” when it comes to mine subsidence claims.

On average the IMSIF gets 350 claims a year, but representatives said four out of five of them turn out not to be mine subsidence.

One area very prone to movement is the Polo Run Neighborhood in Swansea, Illinois. It’s located less than a mile from the middle school.

Rick Dambacher with Polo Run Homeowners Association said mine subsidence is just something you have to deal with in the area.

“The corner of my property was the entrance to the mine so everywhere is mine under here,” said Dambacher.

Scott Elrick with the Illinois State Geological Survey said they are still discovering new mines.

“So if you’re near mining and it shows you’re not under a mine that’s still not a 100 prevent guarantee we do find mines from times to time,” said Elrick.

In fact he asks anyone with old mine maps to give them to the Illinois State Geological Survey so they can continue to update the IL Mine Map with the most current information.

Elrick encourages anyone to check out the IL Mine Map to see what’s underneath your property which you can look up based on an address.

IDNR continues to watch what’s happening at Wolf Branch Middle School and for now the areas including the gym and cafeteria are closed off to kids.

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