In Ida-Viru County, the works to close 15 sinkholes caused by oil shale mining have been completed. In the course of the works, the collapses in the bottom-mined areas, located on 13 registered immovables, were eliminated and repaired. The cost of the works was 66,753 euros; the work was carried out by Aspen Grupp OÜ.
According to the Minister of the Environment, Madis Kallas, all risky sinkholes have now been closed and are no longer dangerous to humans and animals. “The problem had become very serious; the surface layers of the mine passages and their vents were beginning to collapse inside,” the Minister of the Environment said. “Collapses have occurred in former underground mining areas, which have been closed for more than 40 years. It was high time to take action to mitigate the risks.”
Maarja Küttä, project manager of the EIC, explains that unfortunately, in Ida-Viru County the legacy effects had not been addressed for a long time, but by today the state has, in the first order, eliminated 15 deep and holes in the vicinity of buildings or in farmland," says Küttä. “The sinkholes were closed according to standard projects, which were completed in 2021 under the leadership of the EIC. These types of projects can also be used in the future to eliminate uniform mine collapses.”
Next, the Ministry of the Environment is planning a measure “Regional elimination and reduction of the legacy effects of oil shale extraction and processing and regional development of hazardous waste management” from the funds of the Just Transition Fund (JTF). Helena Gailan, Counsellor in the Environmental Technology Department of the Ministry of the Environment, explains that one of the objectives of this measure is to eliminate and reduce the legacy effects of mining and processing. “In this context, we are planning to proactively stabilise areas and shafts with the highest likelihood of collapses, which are close to people, where there is economic activity and a risk of heavy machinery sinking in,” explains Gailan. “The opening of the measure for the eradication of the legacy effects of mining is planned for spring 2023 and the implementation period is until 2027,” she adds.
You can find more information about the closure of the 15 sinkholes on the EIC website here. EIC was commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment to develop standard projects and close priority sinkholes. When a mine sinkhole is discovered, it must be reported to the Environmental Board, which will check the location of the sinkhole indicated in the notice and determine whether the state or the holder of a valid mining permit has an obligation to clean it up. In areas where more than 10 years have passed since mining and there is no valid extraction permit, the responsibility for clean-up remains with the state.
Foto: Aspeng Grupp