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Alabama Mining Program Wins National Award

August 26, 2019

Press Releases

For Immediate Release: August 26, 2019
Alabama Mining Program Wins National Award
Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program Wins Small Project Award for its Work on the Marvel Gob Fire

MONTGOMERY – Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington is congratulating Alabama’s Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Program following today’s announcement from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), the federal agency that oversees the regulation of coal mining and restoration of abandoned mine lands, that Alabama’s AML Reclamation Program won the National AML Reclamation Small Project Award for reclamation work at the Marvel Gob Fire II project.

“Gob” is defined as waste material remaining from coal mining and / or processing operations with a high coal content. Gob is easily ignitable by campfires, trash fires, forest fires, and lightning.

The Marvel Gob Fire, located in the Marvel Community in Bibb County, was created when a forest fire caused the gob to begin smoldering. It created numerous problems for the community, including emitting noxious odors and representing an ever-increasing danger of fire. Several homes and families were near the gob fire. At times, temperatures in the mines were as high as 1250 degrees Fahrenheit.

The intent of the project was to extinguish the existing smoldering gob material by means of excavating the embankment of smoldering gob, spreading the material in an adjacent designated area to allow it to cool down / burn out and covering with nearby mine spoil material, grading the site to drain, and stabilizing by revegetation. The smoldering gob material was contained in an embankment from an old rail line that was approximately 500 feet in length and ranged from approximately 10 feet in height at the outer edges to 80 feet in height at the highest point. The area of the embankment of smoldering gob material was approximately 1.25 acres and the adjacent spoil area was approximately 7.75 acres. All smoldering gob material was extinguished, the site was completely stabilized, and the land successfully reclaimed. The area has been continuously monitored and grass has established and vegetation and wildlife are once again thriving.

“I am extremely proud of our AML staff and the work they did to protect the Marvel Community,” said Washington. “This award reflects the high standards and commitment to safety that all of our Mine Safety staff possess. It’s well deserved.”

The AML Program resolved the issue in 50 work days. OSMRE stated in a press release that “Alabama’s AML Program solved an important community concern, and the methods and approach are now a valuable example for future gob fire reclamation projects.”

Alabama is one of five recipients of the award. A panel of judges composed of directors of state and tribal reclamation programs and OSMRE managers determined the winners. The award will be presented in Pittsburgh, PA on September 9, 2019.

*Before and after photos of the Marvel Gob Fire are attached.

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Members of the media seeking more information should contact Communications Director Tara Hutchison at (334) 242-8616.
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