West Virginia Mine Explosion

April 6, 2010 by Post Team 

West Virginia Mine ExplosionWest Virginia Mine Explosion:Hours after 114 Chinese mine workers were rescued from flooded mine Wangjialing, 25 miners died in an explosion in the Upper Great Power Massey Energy mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Four workers were missing, and resuce efforts have been put on hold until the gas could be outside the mine ventilation.

Charleston Gazette Editor Ken Ward Jr., Gary A. Harki, and Kathryn Gregorio report the suspected cause of the explosion and put it in the context of recent mining tragedies in the region:

mine safety experts who were in contact with state and federal investigators said initial reports that the explosion of methane involving built into an isolated area of the mine or leaked through seals mine.

Such a scenario would be a repeat of the Sago, Darby disasters in 2006 and West Virginia and Kentucky, which claimed 17 lives and prompted regulators to take a closer look at the safety of large areas sealed underground coal mines by first time in years.

They also give details about the size of this operation and safety records concern:

The Upper Big Branch Mine South, employs about 200 workers and last year produced about 1.2 million tons of coal, according to company disclosures filed with MSHA.

In seven of the last 10 years, the mine has been a non-fatal injury rate worse than the national average for similar operations, according to MSHA statistics.

Between 2008 and last year, security violations in the operation of more than double the fines imposed by MSHA tripled, according to agency records.

And write about the emotional burden on families of the victims and the community as a whole:

“If you’re here, you are part of a coal mining family,” said Grace Lafferty from the nearby Harper. “You know a lot of people who work here. It is breathtaking, heart drops and you have that empty feeling.”

A mining operation Massey declined to give his name, but said: “This is scary in more ways than one.”

“We’ve been through this many times before, and we know West Virginia will come together to get through it, but there is nothing easier,” [U.S. Representative Nick] Rahall said.

… A man, a member of the family of a victim of the Sago disaster, drive to be with the families, he said.

“He is able to talk to them in a very few can,” [West Virginia Governor Joe] Manchin said.

Although the names have not been released, three members of one family died in the disaster, said Manchin. Another family member was also in the mine, but survived, he said. This man lost his son, nephew and brother, said Manchin, who lost an uncle in the Farmington Mine disaster in 1968.

Our thoughts are with the families whose loved ones have died and are still missing. We follow Ken Ward Coal Tattoo blog for updates and more information.

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