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Production resumed Thursday afternoon at North America's largest salt mine for the first time since it was shut down 40 days ago by flooding following a seismic event that shook Livingston County.

A crew of 15 began work on the 3 p.m. shift in a section 70 to 100 feet below the previous mining level in an area four to five miles from the flooded portion of the mine at Retsof, said Catherine Bolton, director of corporate communication for Akzo Salt Co.

Work was started with permission of the federal Mine Safety Health Administration after the company and regulators reached agreement on which areas could be mined.

Ms. Bolton said the miners, part of a staff of about 280 employees, had been working at above-ground tasks since March 12 when water from an underground aquifer began pouring into the mine after a seismic event collapsed the mine ceiling.

The water, which is being removed at the rate of 3,000 gallons per minute, is being piped to the Genesee River under a 30-day permit that the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued last Friday.

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