Plan in Works to Fix Old Forge Borehole Pollution

Plan in Works to Fix Old Forge Borehole Pollution

It's considered the largest polluter of the Chesapeake Bay, but now after 50 years a plan is in place to fix pollution from the Old Forge borehole.
It is considered the largest polluter of the Chesapeake Bay.

It's called the Old Forge borehole and everyday it pumps out roughly 60 million gallons of dirty water from underground mines.

Now, after years of work, there is new hope to possibly fix the problem.

For more than 50 years, part of the lower Lackawanna River has looked orange. It's no illusion. The river water is being stained orange by iron oxide coming from the Old Forge borehole, which was drilled in 1962.

"Besides just the color, I mean, the river is dead there," Bill Goldsworthy of West Pittston said. "There's no aquatic life, there's no fish, there's nothing in the river where that orange is."

Enter a new public, private partnership.

Susquehanna Mining Solutions has patented technology which may help solve the pollution problem.

"This is a game-changer, there's no question about it in terms of the environment in northeastern Pennsylvania," State Senator John Yudichak, (D) 14th District said.

The work will be done in phases.

It involves pumping the acid mine water through a soon-to-be-built treatment center.

Officials aren't 100-percent sure the process will work but they say they're nearly confident.

"The first phase of this is going to do five million gallons per day," Susquehanna Mining Solutions president Charlie Medico said. "The total project is reaching 60 million gallons per day."

That is important because on any given day there's roughly 60 million gallons of polluted water coming up from the mines. Experts say that adds 5,000-7,000 pounds of iron to the river each day.

"This is the biggest remaining environmental problem in the Lackawanna River watershed," river advocate Bernie McGurl said.

Other attempts to fix the problem in the past have failed but homeowners and officials are hopeful this time around.

"This is a new horizon for us and we're looking forward to it," Duryea Council President Audrey Marcinko said.

Officials with Susquehanna Mining Solutions say they hope to have the first phase of the project completed within roughly two years.
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