The National Highway 33 and surrounding environment of Jharkhand state of India may be damaged if an ongoing underground fire further engulfs an abandoned mine of Central Coal Field Ltd (CCL) in Ramgarh district.
The mine fire was detected a month ago and is spreading to the new areas.
The road connects capital city of two states i.e. Jharkhand and Bihar and is one of the important mode of communication of the area.
The fire has reached the national highway which is situated near the closed coal mine.
The fire was detected by local residents last week in the mine near Lohagate of Kuju colliery in Ramgarh, about 70 km from state capital Ranchi.
The fire in the closed mines of CCL near Kuju of Ramgarh district has drawn close to the national highway, posing a threat to a three-km-long stretch. Smoke emanating from the underground fire is clearly visible near the highway.
It is not only the fire which is threatening the area but it is also threatening the environment, life and health of the village people staying beside the road. Forest area is also under threat. Threat of land subsidence in the area has increased. Mild tremors can be felt in the area.
Coal also contains many trace elements, including arsenic and mercury, which are dangerous if released into the environment. Coal also contains low levels of uranium, thorium, and other naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes whose release into the environment may lead to radioactive contamination. While these substances are trace impurities, enough coal is burned that significant amounts of these substances are released, paradoxically resulting in more radioactive waste than nuclear power.
Toxic trace elements coming out due to burning of the coal may affect the soil and surface water of the area. It is not only the trace element which may be affecting the area but gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide may also affect the area.
These burning underground fires are difficult to locate and may not be extinguished. Fire is said to be now spreading to the newer areas.
Fires can cause the ground above to subside, combustion gases are dangerous to life, and breaking out to the surface can initiate surface wildfires.
According to the CCL officials fire has been caused due to the illegal coal mining done by the local poor people.