Wow! The things that we miss. I just learned that Pennsylvania has had an underground fire burning for 45 years and that it is likely to burn for another 245 years!
An exposed vein of coal ignited in 1962 due to the standard policy of burning the garbage on a weekly basis in the borough landfill, located in an abandoned mine pit in the southeast portion of Centralia. Attempts to extinguish the fire were unsuccessful, and it continued to burn throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
There are no current plans to extinguish the fire, which is consuming an eight-mile seam containing enough coal to fuel it for 250 years.
Apparently, at $42 million, it is cheaper to move a town than extinguish the fire.
The federal and state governments gave up trying to extinguish the fire in the 1980s. â€œPennsylvania didnâ€™t have enough money in the bank to do the job,â€ says Steve Jones, a geologist with the stateâ€™s Office of Surface Mining.
Across the globe, thousands of coal fires are burning. Nearly impossible to reach and extinguish once they get started, the underground blazes threaten towns and roads, poison the air and soil and, some say, worsen global warming. … The United States, with the worldâ€™s largest coal reserves, harbors hundreds of blazes from Alaska to Alabama. Pennsylvania, the worst-afflicted state, has at least 38â€”an insignificant number compared with China and India, where poverty, old unregulated mining practices and runaway development have created waves of Centralias.
Scientists estimate that Australiaâ€™s BurningMountain, the oldest known coal fire, has burned for 6,000 years.
…in the United States; near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for example, an old coal mine has burned for the past 100 years.
So, why are we still using coal?