West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

View previous topic View next topic Go down

West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:06 pm

7 dead, 19 missing in W.Va. coal mine explosion

Associated Press Writer Lawrence Messina, – 15 mins ago 4/05/2010

MONTCOAL, W.Va. – Dozens of rescuers were trying to find 19 missing miners after an explosion killed seven workers Monday at an underground coal mine with a history of releasing vast amounts of highly combustible methane gas, the mine owner and mine safety officials said.

Nine rescue crews usually made up of six members each were at the southern West Virginia mine that covers several square miles, said federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere.

State mining director Ron Wooten said the blast happened around 3 p.m. at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston. The company did not provide details on the extent of the damage or if other miners had made it out on their own at the mine that has had three other fatalities in the last dozen years.

"We want to assure the families of all the miners we are taking every action possible to locate and rescue those still missing," said Massey CEO Don Blankenship, who confirmed the number of dead and missing in a statement.

He said the names would not be released until next-of-kin were notified.

One injured miner was in intensive care at Charleston Area Medical Center, spokeswoman Elizabeth Pellegrin said.

"We are preparing for other patients," she said.

No one has said what might have caused the explosion, but federal records say the Eagle coal seam releases up to 2 million cubic feet of methane gas into the mine every 24 hours. That is a large amount, said Dennis O'Dell, health and safety director for the United Mine Workers labor union.

Methane is one of the great dangers of coal mining. The colorless, odorless gas is often sold to American consumers to heat homes and cook meals. In mines, giant fans are used to keep methane concentrations below certain levels. In 2006, 12 miners died in a methane explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia. If concentrations are kept between 5 percent and 15 percent, the gas can explode with a spark roughly similar to the static charge created by walking across a carpet in winter.

The sprawling Upper Big Branch, which cannot be seen from the road, has 19 openings and roughly 7-foot ceilings. Inside, it's criss-crossed with railroad tracks used for hauling people and equipment. It is located in one of the state's more heavily mined areas. Along the main two-lane road lined with emergency vehicles Monday night are several plants where coal is prepared for shipment by train.

The bulk of the coal is removed with machine called a longwall miner that uses a cutting head to move back and forth across the working face somewhat like a 1,000-foot-long deli slicer. Hydraulic roof supports shield the miners and equipment as the machines cut deeper into the mountain, with the roof in the mined-out areas caving in by design after workers move on, according to Massey's Web site.

The mine, run by Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co., also has caches of extra oxygen along emergency escape routes and airtight chambers designed to provide enough air to keep people alive for four days, according to Randy Harris, an engineering consultant who oversees installation of high-tech gear.

The mine produced 1.2 million tons of coal in 2009, according to the mine safety agency, and has about 200 employees, most of whom work underground. They would not have all been working the same shift. The mine has two production shifts and one maintenance shift and extracts coal from the 72-inch Eagle coalbed, a thick seam for the region in 2010.

Firefighters in nearby Whitesville asked the town's First Baptist Church to keep its doors open in case family members of miners come looking for information, Pastor Brian Kelly said. No family members had arrived by early Monday evening.

Gov. Joe Manchin was out of town, but working to get back, according to his office. Chief of Staff Jim Spears went to the mine. President Barack Obama spoke Monday night with Manchin to express his condolences and to offer any assistance, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

At the mine, a worker was electrocuted while repairing equipment in 2003. An equipment operator died when a chunk of rock fell on him from the roof in 2001. Another worker was crushed in a roof collapse in 1998.

Massey Energy is a publicly traded company based in Richmond, Va., that has 2.2 billion tons of coal reserves in southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia and Tennessee, according to the company's Web site.

Massey ranks among the nation's top five coal producers and is among the industry's most profitable. It has a spotty safety record.

The federal mine safety administration fined Massey a then-record $1.5 million for 25 violations that inspectors concluded contributed to the deaths of two miners trapped in a fire in January 2006. The company later settled a lawsuit naming it, several subsidiaries and Chief Executive Don Blankenship as defendants. Aracoma Coal Co. later paid $2.5 million in fines after the company pleaded guilty to 10 criminal charges in the fire.

The United Mine Workers said it has personnel nearby and would help non-union Massey if the company asks. The UMW said it also is ready to help families of workers at the mine. Massey is virulently non-union and CEO Blankenship's television set with a UMW fired bullet in it still sits in his office.

West Virginia requires all underground mines to have wireless communications and tracking systems designed to survive explosions and other disasters.

Last year, the number of miners killed on the job in the U.S. fell for a second straight year to 34, the fewest since officials began keeping records nearly a century ago. That was down from the previous low of 52 in 2008.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration documents show 18 of the deaths occurred in coal mines, down from 29 in 2008; and 16 were in gold, copper and other types of mines, down from 22 in 2008.

The deadliest year in recorded U.S. coal mining history was 1907, when 3,242 deaths were reported. That year, the nation's deadliest mine explosion killed 358 people near Monongah, W.Va.

http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/18994559


Last edited by Piper on Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:00 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Update death toll)
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:18 pm

Please pray for these miners and their loved ones. I come from a coal mining family and we are all too familiar with coal mining accidents and deaths.
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:53 pm



View of the tipple near the scene of a mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.Va., on Monday April 5, 2010.
(AP Photo/Jon C. Hancock)



A general view shows a coal mine in West Virginia in 2008. Six miners were killed and 21 others were missing following an explosion at a coal mine in the US state of West Virginia, local media reported Monday.




Map locates where a mine explosion in West Virginia left multiple fatalities.
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:57 pm



http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/05/west.virginia.mine.explosion/index.html?hpt=T1
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:06 am

(CNN) -- Seven miners died Monday and 19 others were unaccounted for after an explosion erupted inside an underground mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, the mine's parent company said.

Another 21 miners were injured in the blast at the Upper Big Branch Mine, according to Michael Mayhorn, emergency dispatcher for Boone County, which was called in to assist in the response.

The explosion apparently occurred during an afternoon shift change, witnesses and officials said.

At least 20 ambulances and three helicopters were dispatched from surrounding counties, and the state medical examiner was heading to the scene, Mayhorn said. At least one miner was evacuated by helicopter, according to Mayhorn.

Don Blankenship, the chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co., which oversees the mine, said in a statement that the company is "working diligently on rescue efforts."

"Our prayers go out to the families of the miners," he said. "We want to assure the families of all the miners we are taking every action possible to locate and rescue those still missing."

The explosion happened about 4:30 p.m. at Massey Energy's Performance Coal Co. mine in Whitesville, West Virginia, 30 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia, CNN affiliate WCHS reported.


The cause of the explosion was not immediately known, but methane gas has been blamed in several deadly mining accidents in recent years, including the 2006 explosion at the Sago mine, also in West Virginia, that killed 12 people. Five miners in Harlan County, Kentucky, were killed five months later in a methane gas explosion in Kentucky Darby Mine No. 1.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, however, said spring is an unusual time of year to see such explosions, which typically occur in winter as barometric pressure changes occur inside mines.

Manchin said he had spoken to Blankenship, who told him that the mine was equipped with rescue chambers, a safety measure put in place following several deadly accidents in 2006. The chambers are stocked with such supplies as first-aid kits and oxygen tanks in the event of an emergency.

"We're very hopeful that the miners who are missing were able to make it to those rescue chambers," said Manchin, who was on his way to the site.

Manchin also spoke to President Barack Obama, who offered his condolences and federal government assistance in the rescue effort.

Miners paced outside the mine shaft, trying to help emergency responders treating their injured colleagues, said Shawn Kline, a reporter for CNN affiliate WVVA.

"The look of worry is on just about everyone's faces," Kline said as dozens of fire trucks, ambulances and police cars streamed into and out of the site.

Eric Martin, who works the day shift at the mine, told WVVA that his father is one of the missing.

"It's like I got hit in the gut right there real hard (and) I just keep getting hit," he said.

At least one miner was evacuated by helicopter and two others by ambulance, officials said.

CAMC spokeswoman Elizabeth Pellegrin said the hospital received one person from the mine via a helicopter at 6 p.m. That patient is getting treatment in the hospital's intensive care unit, she said, declining to elaborate on the person's injuries.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, said in a statement Monday that he is "working with state and federal officials to get as much information as possible and ... doing all I can to help make sure all resources are made available for this rescue effort."

Massey Energy Co., based in Richmond, Virginia, has operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. It is the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia, it said in a statement.

Three other deaths have happened in the Upper Big Branch Mine in the past 12 years, according to federal records.

In 1998, a man was killed when a beam he was constructing collapsed; in 2001, a worker died after a rock fell on him; and in 2003, an electrician who was repairing a shuttle car was found dead, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Monday's explosion is the latest in a string of problems for Massey Energy, which operates 44 underground and surface mines and controls 2.2 billion tons of coal reserves in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and Massey's Web site.


The company has been fined for several incidents, some fatal, at its facilities in recent years, including a 2006 fire that killed two miners in Aracoma Coal Company's Alma Mine No. 1. Aracoma is a division of Massey. The company pleaded guilty to 10 criminal charges in connection with the fire and was fined $2.5 million in 2009.

In 2000, a coal sludge impoundment owned by Massey Energy broke into an abandoned underground mine, oozing more than 300 million gallons of coal waste into tributaries in eastern Kentucky.

Also in 2000, a series of accidents at Massey facilities killed eight miners during the course of the year, according to Davitt McAteer, former director of the Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration.

"Massey has had difficulty with their accident records and their numbers of citations and penalties that have been issued against them," McAteer said. "There is a problem here, and it's a problem that we hoped had gone away."

A post on the Massey Web site touts the company's 2009 safety record, saying it "marked the sixth consecutive year and the 17th year out of the past 20 years in which Massey's safety performance was stronger than the industry average."

The U.S. mining industry in 2009 saw its safest year in the history of American mining with 18 deaths. Prior to Monday's explosion, two deaths had been recorded for 2010.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/05/west.virginia.mine.explosion/index.html?hpt=T1
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:32 am

25 killed in West Virginia mine blast
By the CNN Wire Staff
April 6, 2010 6:52 a.m. EDT

Montcoal, West Virginia (CNN) -- The death toll from the massive explosion at a sprawling coal mine in West Virginia rose to 25 early Tuesday, making it the deadliest U.S. mining disaster in 25 years.

Crews halted their efforts to reach four miners still unaccounted for at the Upper Big Branch Mine following the blast Monday afternoon.

Concentrations of methane and carbon monoxide inside the mine made it a safety risk for crews to proceed, said Kevin Stricklin of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration at a 2 a.m. briefing to reporters.

Officials planned to drill bore holes from the surface 1,200 feet into the mines to help ventilate it and to collect samples. However, they will first have to use bulldozers to clear a path to reach the part of the mine where they can drill.

Stricklin said he did not know how long the process would take.

"I think it's a dire situation but I do think that it is a rescue operation and it will be that way until we confirm that these four additional people are not living," he said. "I mean, there are miracles that go on."

"Basically all we have left," Stricklin said, "is hope."

Seven bodies have been brought out and identified. Among them were three members of the same family: an uncle and two nephews, said West Virginia's Gov. Joe Manchin.

Eighteen other bodies remained inside the mine, and four miners are missing, Manchin said.

Authorities do not yet have a cause. But the mine has a troubled safety record, with three other deaths in the past 12 years, federal records show.

Monday's explosion was the deadliest mining incident in the United States since 1984, when 27 people were killed in a fire at the Emery Mining Corp.'s mine in Orangeville, Utah.

The nation's single deadliest mining disaster was in 1907, when 362 people were killed in a mine explosion near Monongah, West Virginia.

By early Tuesday, nine rescue teams had arrived on-site. Their goal was to race toward the mine's internal rescue chambers where miners are trained to seek refuge after an accident. However, the build up of methane and carbon monoxide forced their withdrawal.

Such airtight chambers -- put in place following several deadly mining accidents in 2006 -- are stocked with enough food and water to enable workers to survive for four days.

Crews noticed that a number of SCSR breathing devices had been taken from storage areas inside the mine.

This, Stricklin said, gave officials hope that some of the miners who survived the initial explosion may have taken them to breathe easier as they made their way to the chambers.

He could not say how many such devices were taken.

SCSR -- or self-contained self-rescue -- devices are portable oxygen sources that help provide breathable air.

But even as rescuers hoped to reach the chambers, the concentrations of methane and carbon monoxide that crews detected "were to the point that they were risking their own lives," Stricklin said.

"A decision was made at the time to evacuate the rescue teams from the mine," he said.

All day Monday, distraught family members waited and prayed in a Massey building, shielded from reporters. Outside the mine shaft, miners paced restlessly trying to help emergency responders treat their injured colleagues.

"I told them, 'The good Lord didn't give me the words to comfort you,'" said Gov. Manchin. "I told them to do what they do best: love each other and come together as a family. "

Jenny Waycaster rushed to the mine when she heard about the explosion. Her son -- like her father -- is a miner. And the blast went off just as he was about to start his evening shift.

"He was one of the fortunate ones," she said. "I was blessed. I was blessed."

Soon afterward, she and her son started hearing from friends who had lost their sons and fathers.

"There's so many people hurting," Waycaster said. "This is a good place up here and it's family."

While the cause of the explosion was not immediately known, methane gas has been blamed in several deadly mining accidents in recent years.

They include the 2006 explosion at the Sago mine, also in West Virginia, that killed 12 people.

At the Upper Big Branch Mine, three other deaths have occurred in the past 12 years, according to federal records:

-- In 1998, a man was killed when a beam he was constructing collapsed.

-- In 2001, a worker died after a rock fell on him.

-- And in 2003, an electrician who was repairing a shuttle car was found dead, the Mine Safety and Health Administration said.


Monday's explosion is the latest in a string of problems for Richmond, Virginia-based Massey Energy, which operates 44 underground and surface mines. It controls 2.2 billion tons of coal reserves in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.


http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/06/west.virginia.mine.explosion/index.html?hpt=T1
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Estee on Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:22 am

In 1968 in Farmington, WV there was a mine disaster that brought about new mine safety laws...99 miners were inside, 21 were able to escape....78 were killed and 19 of the dead were never recovered...The recovery process took 10 years...More info at Wikipedia...Farmington Mine Disaster


Last edited by Estee on Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:42 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : additional info)
avatar
Estee

Posts : 6002
Join date : 2009-10-12
Age : 76
Location : Cozy little shack
Mood : Excited

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Cali on Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:50 am

This CEO Blankenship is a very very wealthy creature, who rakes in millions every year while miners work every day in unsafe conditions. Blankenship is also a selfish creature who places profits over people...to him...people are disposable and he has flaunted his power by continuing to operate while failing to spend any money to comply with the many citations he ignores. He finds it cheaper to pay a small fine compared to what it would cost to make needed repairs to the mines. He is a greedy profit-hungry creature, and should be held accountable for these deaths. I am so sorry for the families that have lost loved ones to the mines. I am also sorry for those who are trapped by circumstance, tradition, and lack of other employment opportunities - men who are forced to continue to go to their job each day knowing that they may become the next casualty.
avatar
Cali

Posts : 2968
Join date : 2009-10-21
Age : 80
Location : California
Mood : Happy

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:19 am

Both of my grandfathers were miners. As far as immediate family, I've lost an uncle and 2 cousins to mining. The first a cave in, the other two were explosions. My father grew up in what they call a coal camp. Little towns set up by the wealthy mine owners. They owned the houses and the company store. When it came time for the miner's to collect their paychecks, guess what. They didn't have two nickels to rub together because of the greed. Housing and items bought at the company owned store were deducted from their paychecks. They didn't have a choice. Life is much better for the miners today because the unions were brought in years ago, but the miner's safety is still not a priority. The owners will do anything to avoid correcting safety issues they have been cited for. They'd rather pay the attorney fees to get citations reduced than fix the problem. It's a sad thing that's gone on for many, many years at the cost of many lives.
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Piper on Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:56 am

4 missing West Virginia miners found dead

By the CNN Wire StaffApril 10, 2010 5:20 a.m. EDT

Naoma, West Virginia (CNN) -- Days of rescue efforts came to a grim end after crews found the bodies of four miners who had been missing since an explosion almost a week ago in a West Virginia mine, authorities said early Saturday.

"We did not receive the miracle we prayed for," said West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin. "This journey has ended and now the healing will start."

Authorities first notified the families of the four miners about their fate before revealing it to the media.

The death toll from Monday's blast at the Upper Big Branch mine now stands at 29, making it the worst mining disaster in the United States in nearly four decades.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/10/west.virginia.mine/index.html?section=cnn_latest
avatar
Piper

Posts : 10277
Join date : 2009-07-12
Mood : Innocent

Back to top Go down

Re: West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion - 29 Confirmed Dead

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum