Mapping abandoned mines in the Richmond area

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The state wants to know what's under your house. Its mapping abandoned coal mines in chesterfield, Goochland, Henrico, Powhatan, Amelia and Richmond.

The state will need a property owner's permission. The process is simple: digital cameras and a GPS will tell if you've sitting on an abandoned coal mine. People we talked to are curious to find out but once you've got to tell a potential buyer.

If they knew then, what they know now...

"Last fall, we noticed a sinkhole in our driveway. Large puddling where there wasn't before and all of a sudden the hole progressed probably about 12 inches deep," said Chesterfield resident Greg Tobey.

Gregg and his wife Vicky probably wouldn't have moved into their home.

"It appears like it's kind of continuing along toward the front yard. It may be an old mine. Yeah, it may be.  I'm kind of curious," said Gregg.

The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy is preparing to collect information on old coal mine sites throughout our area. That information will then go onto a website where counties and residents can access it.

"I'd think we'd have to determine the extent of the disruption before we'd say yes to that," he said.

Most cases will involve no disruption. But if digging is necessary, an auger will dig 4-5 feet.

"You don't want your house falling down in a hole one day.  So definitely, I would want to know," Vicky said.

But there could be a catch.

"So if there were any abandoned mining operations at one point or if there was any presence of any abandoned mine shafts or pits you must disclose the information," said Real Estate Agent Matt Cullather.

In a competitive housing market, Matt Cullather says some sales could sink if old mines are on the property.

"Flip the question on the homeowner, would you have bought this house knowing what you know now- and 9 times out of 10 the answer's going to be no," said Cullather.

The information gathered will load onto a website for counties and residents to view. The last survey was done in the 80's. Taxes from coal companies pay for the inspections.

If you think your property may be on the state's list or if you have questions you can contact the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The phone number is 434- 951- 6364.

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