Upper Big Branch Mine blast in Montcoal, W. Va-. The mine, which employs about 200, is owned by the Massey Energy Company, based in VA, and operated by the Performance Coal Company. Current death toll for two groups of miners is at 25 and a third group of four are still unaccounted for, were even deeper in the mine. If they could reach one of two rescue chambers near the blast site, they would have food, water and enough air to survive for four days.
“All we know now is, this is an awful disaster,” Representative Nick J. Rahall II said as he arrived at the mine site, which is in his district. “This is the second major disaster at a Massey site in recent years, and something needs to be done.
Confined Spaces can be deadly and this is truth to that point. This is a very sad story and my thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s families and hope the missing are found alive. As we all know, mining is a very dangerous occupation and this type of story seems to happen every few years. Previous violations should have had action items for correction to prevent this tragedy from happening. According to the news article, the Upper Big Branch mine has recorded an injury rate worse than the national average for similar operations for at least 6 of the past 10 years; also two fatalities in previous 10 years. Records show that the mine had 458 violations in 2009, with a total of $897,325 in safety penalties assessed against it last year. It has paid $168,393 in safety penalties. “Massey’s commitment to safety has long been questioned in the coalfields,” said Tony Oppegard, a lawyer and mine safety advocate from Kentucky.
Further, more than 100,000 coal miners have been killed in accidents in the United States since 1900, but the number of fatalities has fallen sharply in recent decades, the Mine Safety and Health Administration says. As late as the 1940s, it was not unusual to have more than 1,000 mining deaths a year; in 2009, there were 35 mining deaths, according to the agency. Click here for more mining statistics or link to OSHA.
Submitted by: Donna Kolody/Emedco