Residents of the Siersza estate in Trzebinia (Małopolskie Voivodeship) are afraid that they will lose their homes due to the sinkholes appearing in the area. The results of the research commissioned by Spółka Restrukturownictwa Mine are to be published only in mid-February.
Recently, the ground has collapsed in Trzebinia dozens of times. Four sinkholes appeared in the built-up area, and one of them occurred in the cemetery, absorbing 40 graves. So far, the authorities have not decided to evacuate the residents of the Siersza estate, where there are gaps.
Małgorzata went for a walk when someone wrote that another hole had just appeared nearby. – I came to check from afar, don’t come close – she says by the forested path between the Gaj housing estate and allotment gardens. Residents of Siersza share such information on online groups devoted to the issues of the estate. In the past, similar messages came once every few years, last year there were several, but now residents see entries about sinkholes every few days.
“I don’t know where or when”
The reported sinkholes are secured by the fire brigade, then the hole is filled up by the Mine Restructuring Company, which is the legal successor of the coal mine. Residents point out, however, that backfilling solves the problem only where a sinkhole has appeared. – And yet in a moment the ground may collapse a few meters away – they say. They are impatient waiting for the results of the tests ordered in September by SRK. The full elaboration of the results of all studies from the last months is finally to be made public on February 15. The date fell during a meeting of the provincial crisis management staff.
– In mid-February we are supposed to get information, and here something is happening every day. Now there’s a hole again, you saw. Yesterday or the day before. We live on a time bomb, says Marzena. – In the fall, a hole flew out at a neighbor. We are afraid because we do not know where and when. When we hear only the signal from the fire brigade, everyone is already nervous.
The woman says she first saw a crater collapse as a child. Then a hole was made next to the fence of her house. – I’ve lived here since I was born. My grandfather worked in the mine, my father and husband. My children were born here, I have seen and experienced a lot here, and now when you are old you are afraid that the house will collapse or we will be relocated – she says and adds that there is an intersection of two mine galleries behind her property. – The son wanted to build, he lives in Zabrze, he was born here and he always dreamed of building a house. But they’re afraid of falling into the mine one day.
Mining sidewalks under the streets
Mining in Siersza began at the beginning of the 19th century, making the mine one of the oldest in the Upper Silesian Basin. At the beginning, the exploitation was carried out shallowly, at a depth of about 30 meters. – There were over 100 shafts in Siersza, most of which are shallow shafts from the 19th century. From the preserved information, we can learn that the area between the streets was the most exploited John Paul II and Grunwaldzka – says Mateusz Król, chairman of the council of the Siersza estate, who is also interested in local history. The area of coal mining covered i.a. allotments, part of the cemetery and a forest on the eastern side of the estate. This is visible, among others, on an old map from the National Archives.
The map was created after the tragedy of 1922, when the Kozi Bród stream flowing in the vicinity of the cemetery burst into the underground corridors, drowning 28 miners. Due to the tragedy, it was decided to regulate the river and create an artificial channel for it. The project was created in December 1922. The map, next to the stream regulation plans, probably shows the areas of coal mining so far.
– We can see how many different sidewalks cross this area – Mateusz Król glides his finger on the map. – The marked area of coal mining shows that part of the cemetery and allotment gardens are probably located above the area where coal was mined. And these – he points to the marked circles – these are sinkholes. Holes were seen here as early as 1922.
On a small map, the man marks an oval stretching from the NOT villa and the church to the forest opposite the Gaj housing estate.
Development of the mine in Siersza
Mateusz Król also shows us a scan of the map of the “industrial center of Sierszański” from 1875. – Here you can see the mine that operated under the park, near the villa. On this map, the Gepel shaft is marked next to the villa – it points to the park.
Houses border the park of the villa. In the garden of one of them, from the side of Górnicza Street, an area of several meters was secured with white and red tape. The hole had just been filled there, the ground had collapsed six meters from the house next door. – Here where this puddle – Mateusz Król points to the garden – there was a sinkhole in 2007. Then, for two years, special material was forced into the excavations to secure the area. Then on Christmas Day the hole falls out in the same yard.
On the fence, a yellow and red card: Dangerous zone, no entry.
– And if we look to the right, behind the road to the intersection, there was also a sinkhole there – he turns towards Górnicza and John Paul II, marking another point on the printed map of Siersza. – So we have a NOT, a garden, an intersection – and when we connect these dots, we get one straight line – he draws on a piece of paper. “Perhaps we are near the shallow corridor of the old mine.”
After 1949, KWK Siersza began to grow intensively and covered a total area of 40 square kilometers. As they developed further afield, the corridors tended to go much lower. At that time, the mine also started building blocks of flats for its employees, the Gaj housing estate. In the years 1999-2001 Siersza was closed. The liquidators assumed that after the pumps were disconnected, the voids left after operation would be filled with water. Over time, its level began to rise, the water began to come closer and closer to the surface of the earth.
Zadliska in Trzebinia
Recently, the ground in Trzebinia has collapsed dozens of times, of which four holes appeared in the built-up area, in the past protected against such an eventuality. The commune is waiting for the results of research commissioned by Spółka Restrukturownictwa Mine, which are to answer the question of what is underground, which areas are most at risk and what should be done to protect this area. At the same time, it stipulates that it is the company that is responsible for ensuring the safety of residents.
– SRK is obliged not only to carry out monitoring, but above all to take appropriate protective measures in the event of threats – emphasizes Anna Jarguz, spokeswoman for the Trzebinia City Hall. The commune also commissioned an independent entity to analyze the results of the research to be presented by SRK. Until the first expert opinions, he does not plan any radical steps.
The company marked a potentially endangered area of shallow exploitation, covering a total of 280 ha of Siersza on the map. – In the research, we narrowed down the area because it is impossible to explore the entire area in such a short time. For now, it has been narrowed down to the most sensitive area around the buildings – 100 hectares have been selected – commented Mariusz Tomalik, SRK spokesman.
After selecting the most endangered areas, building supervision could exclude buildings from use due to their technical condition until the irregularities are removed. Such a decision would be tantamount to the evacuation of residents. Residents – as announced by the mayor – in the event of the need to evacuate, they will apply for compensation, compensation and will have legal support from the city office.
Main photo source: TVN24