Belleville grocery store closes suddenly after a nearby mine collapsed. Here’s what we know
Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.
The Ruler Foods grocery store on North Belt West in Belleville has been closed to the public because of mine subsidence, the city’s fire chief and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.
The subsidence — what experts call the ground shifting because of collapsing underground coal mines nearby — led to cracks in the store’s parking lot and on two nearby streets, Queensway Drive and Chaucer Drive.
Fire Chief Stephanie Mills said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is investigating the grocery store building.
A spokeswoman for the state agency said in a statement that the subsidence was reported on Sunday and it is about 300 feet in diameter.
The department “considers this an active subsidence event.”
Ruler Foods said in a Facebook post that the store at 1703 North Belt West had closed because of a water main break. A sign on the store’s door said the business was closed “due to a safety issue.” A representative of Ruler Foods could not be reached for additional comment.
Mine subsidence happens when the roof of an underground, abandoned coal mine collapses and causes the ground above the mine to shift, or “subside,” because of the collapse.
Pillars of coal that were used to support the mine shafts can deteriorate over time and cause the mine to collapse. Walls and floors of buildings, sidewalks, driveways and roads can crack when mine subsidence occurs. Natural gas and water lines also can be damaged.
Mills said three nearby homes also have mine subsidence but the Department of Natural Resources has allowed those residents to return to their homes.
“There’s no immediate hazard,” Mills said.
Ameren responded to the scene on Sunday, Mills said.
The former Bel-Air Bowl was demolished to make way for Ruler Foods, which opened in late 2014.
Ruler Foods, which is owned by Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co., received $200,000 in TIF funds from the city as an incentive to build the store.
Ruler Foods is located near a neighborhood that had mine subsidencereported in May 2021. These homes are off Michael Drive and Patricia Lane near the intersection of North 17th Street and Illinois 161.
Homes, schools, commercial buildings and roads in the metro-east have been damaged by mine subsidence over the past several decades.
Mike Koziatek is a reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.