1) Know the location of your local abandoned mines…if you can
ODNR provides maps and data on known abandoned mine locations, but the data is not perfect. In addition, many mines in their data are listed in “unknown” or “partially-known” extent, meaning that complete data is not available, though some evidence of a mine has presented itself. To make matters worse, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has admitted that not all mines in the state of Ohio can be easily looked up. The organization has concerns of spelunking locals, but others are worried about threats to their local community. But for readily-accessible mines, ODNR has created an interactive map available on their website. The map even features search functions to locate mines in your area.
2) Ask before you build
ODNR offers resources to local landowners looking to build around their property. Issues like flooding, water contamination, unknown mine openings, spoil and landslides can have an impact on building projects if not properly handled. ODNR can be contacted about these issues and will even send a free DVD and informational guide.
3) Consider mine subsidence insurance
Many insurance policies do not immediately cover damaged property if a mine collapses or subsides. In 1985, Ohio passed a law to establish the Ohio Mine Subsidence Insurance Fund, which allows residents in certain counties to purchase insurance for such incidents. In 1993, a new law created a “mandatory” insurance policy for residents in certain counties, including Athens, Mahoning, Perry, Stark and many more. They each pay $1 a year for that protection. Optional counties — which include Portage and Summit counties — also exist, where homeowners pay an extra $5 a year to get the insurance. Your agent or insurance company will give your claim to the Ohio Mine Subsidence Insurance Underwriting Association.
4) Concerns over blasting
According to ODNR, blasting – the process of using explosives at mines – is one of the “most feared and least understood aspects of mining operations in Ohio.” Nearly half a million pounds of explosives are detonated in Ohio quarries and surface mines daily. Ohio has multiple regulations for blasting, including limiting ground vibration and airblast (the venting of gasses through openings that often cause loud noises). Ground vibration is often the biggest worry for local homeowners, as it can shake houses depending on distance to a mine. The vibration is controlled through delayed blasts and by limiting the “weight” of explosives during 8-millisecond periods.
5) Report any emergencies
Reporting emergencies related to mines is important for public safety. A variety of issues, from explosions to subsidence to pollution, can be hazardous or even deadly. ODNR has three emergency contacts: (740) 439-9079 for emergencies in Northern Ohio, (740) 674-4035 for emergencies in Southern Ohio and (614) 265-6633 for the state headquarters in Columbus. The agency recommends that callers identify your personal information as well as the location of the “problem site” and contact information for anyone who might know more about the issue. In addition, you can provide information on when the incident happened and if it is a common occurrence in your area.