Test pump for water at former Michael Pit

Michael Colliery winding wheel
Michael Colliery winding wheel

The coal authority is planning to install a test pump at the former Michael Colliery in a bid to reduce rising mine water levels.

It is estimated that the levels have risen 130 feet in the last 18 years.

Although no date for installation has yet been set, the authority has already been in touch with SEPA and other relevant bodies as a license is required to carry out the pumping and discharge.

Currently, the only pumping carried out in the area is at the former Frances Colliery, as the pumps at the Michael were shut down several years ago.

Councillor Tom Adams, who raised the issue at the November Industrial Communities Alliance conference in Wales, said: “At one time, there were five pits all pumping water. When all were working, it wasn’t a problem, but the water levels have risen a lot quicker than anyone expected.

“The water was actually coming out into the River Leven and the authority had to drill a borehole and install a small pump down at Steelworks Brae last year to deal with it.

“In my opinion, there needs to be three pumps back at the Michael, and ideally reedbeds, as they actually soak up the ochre.”

Cllr Adams noted that if the water is not controlled, and potential Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is allowed to be carried out, there could be potential for disaster.

“If this UCG is carried out, the water would have to mix - if there’s any cracks the water will get in - and there’s huge potential for more lethal chemicals to be spilled into rivers and the Forth.”

John Delaney, corporate services, Coal Authority, confirmed to the Mail that while pumps are already in action at the Frances to protect mine water levels, because of the size of the coalfield in this area, the Coal Authority is looking at a test which will be undertaken to drive a scheme to get the levels under control.