State officials were in Western Pennsylvania today to kick-off a campaign to warn people about the dangers of abandoned mines.
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty visited an abandoned strip mine in Joffre in Washington County that is less than 10 feet from the Pan Handle Trail to announce the 2008 Stay Out — Stay Alive campaign.
Since 2000, 31 people have died trespassing in mines and quarries in Pennsylvania. Nationwide, 249 people have died in that time period, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
“Mining has been a cornerstone of our economy for more than 200 years, but the unregulated mining practices of the past have left us with one-quarter million acres of dangerous and deadly mine lands,” McGinty said in a news release. “Every year we hear of more tragic accidents: swimmers drowning in abandoned water-filled pits where water temperatures drop dramatically just below the surface; people entering abandoned mines or dilapidated structures and getting lost or trapped; and all-terrain vehicle riders breaking through brush on the crest of an old mine site and rolling down a hillside.
“Be safe this summer. Mines and quarries are not playgrounds; they can kill you. Stay out and stay alive.”
The DEP is airing 30-second radio and television messages across the state to reinforce the message.