7 dead, 21 missing in W.Va. coal mine blast

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7 dead, 21 missing in W.Va. coal mine blast

Post  ladyfirst2010 on Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:04 pm

MONTCOAL, W.Va. (AP) Seven miners were killed and at least 21 were unaccounted for Monday in an explosion at an underground coal mine, the state mining director said.

Ron Wooten said the blast was reported 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 been rescued. A Boone County ambulance dispatcher also said he has the same number of fatalities and missing miners.

The mine is operated by Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co. It has caches of extra oxygen along emergency escape routes and airtight refuge chambers designed to provide enough air to keep miners alive for four days if they can't make their way out, according to Randy Harris, an engineering consultant who oversees installation of high-tech gear.

Mine emergency crews from the State Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training were headed to the scene, but agency spokeswoman Jama Jarrett had no more details.

The large mine produced 1.2 million tons of coal in 2009, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and has about 200 employees, most of whom work underground. They would not have all been working the same shift.

Gov. Joe Manchin was out of town, but working to get back, according to his office. Chief of Staff Jim Spears was headed to the mine.

At least three fatalities have happened at the mine in the past dozen years.

In 1998, a worker was killed when a support beam collapsed, dumping bags of cement mix and other materials onto the man, according to a report from the federal Mine Safety & Health Administration. Federal investigators blamed poor welding and construction.

In 2001, another worker at the mine died after a portion of roof fell in on him, and an electrician died after being electrocuted while repairing a shuttle car there in 2003.

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 website.

In 2006, 12 miners died in a methane explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Six were killed in the collapse of the Crandall Canyon mine in Utah in 2007.

West Virginia requires all underground mines to have wireless communications and tracking systems designed to survive explosions and other disasters. While not all mines in West Virginia comply with federal standards, all have systems that meet state requirements, engineering consultant Harris said.

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. Most involved aboveground truck accidents on mine property, though some resulted from rock falls and being struck by machinery.

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, West Virginia.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Re: 7 dead, 21 missing in W.Va. coal mine blast

Post  Markwes on Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:15 pm

On my list of jobs I would do, mining is way down there.
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Re: 7 dead, 21 missing in W.Va. coal mine blast

Post  SavoyTruffle on Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:53 pm

Awesome, Massey Energy won't even let the fellow miners go to the funeral of those lost in the blast:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/apr2010/mine-a12.shtml?sick

Ugh, the guys who run this company just completely disgust me. Mad
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Re: 7 dead, 21 missing in W.Va. coal mine blast

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