Thursday, April 08, 2010

Massey Mine Explosion Update : Thursday April 8th

Sadly the Mine Rescue Crews have been trying to enter the Mines, but the Gases below are not cooperating.Even with extra shafts drilled there continues to be Methane readings that are unsafe for the Rescue Crews.Methane is so tricky, highly explosive and it causes shifts in other gases ( CO2 and O2) and also even the smallest charge can cause explosions, especially with all the coal dust that is down there.

Estimates on Monday for visibility due to coal dust were 2.5 feet. Since the Gas is odorless, colorless and tasteless the Rescuers are at risk and since they have work their way in 5000 feet up the shaft, this is a situation that has to be constantly monitored. A bigger concern that they have not really discussed on air, is that the Constantly rising unstable Methane Gas means that it is not just a breathing issue, it is indeed an explosion Risk issue. Now we are starting to learn that the Mine has been shuttered and closed for Methane issues in the past months.

Washington Independent reports more details from the Labor and MSHA reports. ( I am still searching for the OSHA reports). But in this latest round of reports it turns out that the Mine has indeed been Shuttered 61 Times in 15 Months. These new numbers raise many Questions.

The Federal Government's Mine Safety website is worth exploring and posts daily updates on the Performance Mine Situation .

This is MSHA"s statement about the Special Investigation that has been ordered regarding the Mine Explosion.

If MSHA did know about the Excessive Violation Numbers WHY was the Mine not Closed UNTIL the Safety Issues were fully addressed. It is admirable that the Prevention Chambers were placed in the Mines in case the Miners needed refuge, that says to me that they were willing to spend money for Some Disaster Planning, but why wouldn't the Violations be better addressed ? Especially the ones regarding ventilation and Air Flow and methane readings ? Did MSHA track the "Shuttering Incidents" would that alone be enough to Close the Mine for Full Inspection ?
Think Progress has been doing an amazing job tracking the Massey Violations and their site really is the place to go for daily updates and information.
Nicole Nuss of Care2 has more on the Safety Issues and Massey Energy's Track record addressing violations that is worth the read, really well written and explained.
Many people on the Internet and Blogs and Twitter have been trying to find ways to give to the Miner Families. West Virginia Gazette has reported Two Charities that are accepting Donations to help the Families Directly. This link is posted and the information is also below. Please forward to Crooks and Liars and Huffington Post. Thank You.

For Donations to the Miner Families:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Council of Churches has established the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund and is accepting donations to be distributed among the families of miners who were killed in Monday's explosion at Performance Coal Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine.Those who wish to make a monetary contribution should contact the Council of Churches at 304-344-3141 or for details.

In addition, Appalachian Bible College is accepting gifts and other items for the families of the deceased miners. For details about non-monetary donations visit

This is the link to the Bible College that is collecting letters of sympathy for the families and raising funds for their needs.
2AM Friday Update:::
CBS News reporting as of 1:55AMM that the plan is to flush the mines with Nitrogen, to improve safety conditions and enable the Rescue Crews to return early in the am to attempt to rescue the 4 missing miners.
Please keep the Miners in your thoughts and prayers, I will update this post tomorrow and post updates in the Comments like I always do if you want to check back regarding the Rescue and Recovery Efforts.
Best Article yet in the Rolling Stone on the Mine Explosion : "Coaltastrophe", even explores violations on the Methane Violations.
1AM Saturday Morning...(late Friday Night) Final push was made to rescue the remaining 4 miners, they were found dead, they had never reached a Rescue Chamber. So 29 Miners did die in the Explosion.
CBS has more on the final Rescue push tonight as they are now recovering the remaining bodies in the Mine.


enigma4ever said...

2am ::

Supposedly they are going to try to flush the mines out with the morn and send crews back in ...I don't know enough chemically to know if that is a good idea...

Mine Rescuers to Try Nitrogen Flush to Clear Air

enigma4ever said...

More on Blankenship's tweets::

"Believe me yet? Global warming is a hoax and a Ponzi scheme."

Those are the words from a Feb. 19th tweet written by Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who is in the spotlight following the deaths of 25 miners at his company's Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

A CBS News review of Blankenship's tweets since early January finds him railing against environmentalists.

Blankenship takes the Sierra Club to task for tying up the legal system with "frivolous lawsuits." He criticizes environmentalist activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for taking government subsidies for his solar business, "RFK Jr. says green jobs will replace coal jobs. He's spending $1.4 billion to create 86 solar jobs. Massey employs 6000 workers. Do the math."

But on February 5th Blankenship had high praise for the federal agency that regulates his industry, the Mine Safety and Health Administration. He tweeted, "I applaud MSHA for recent focus on studying most common conditions/practices leading to accidents. Sounds very promising."

But Blankenship's company lagged far behind in its payments of MSHA penalties. The Upper Big Branch Mine South had 458 violations issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration in 2009 according to agency records including seven ventilation violations in March 2010 alone. MSHA records show the mine has over $240,000 listed as "delinquent" penalties since January 2008 that have not been paid.

Blankenship is an active political operative who made $41,300 in direct campaign contributions to GOP candidates since January 2008. Donations went to Republican candidates including $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in November of 2009.

enigma4ever said...

MSHA's Mission :

MSHA's mission is to administer the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, as amended by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, and to enforce compliance with mandatory safety and health standards as a means to eliminate fatal accidents; to reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents; to minimize health hazards; and to promote improved safety and health conditions in the nation's mines.

enigma4ever said...

WestVa Gazette:::

"Wagner was upset with a story that detailed a report prepared this week for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., in which MSHA officials revealed that they had issued 54 withdrawal orders to the mine in 2009 and another seven such orders so far in 2010.

"That's way off the charts," said Tony Oppegard, a former MSHA staffer and longtime mine safety lawyer in Kentucky. "I've never heard of that amount of withdrawal orders in that short of a period of time."

Under federal law, MSHA generally does not have broad authority to simply close a troubled coal mine, unless it seeks a federal court injunction to stop anything its inspectors believe "constitutes a continuing hazard to the health and safety of miners."

But, on its own authority and without going to court, MSHA can issue what the law calls "withdrawal orders" that force all miners to be removed from areas until significant hazards are eliminated.

In the case of the Upper Big Branch Mine, most of the withdrawal orders -- 48 in 2009 and six during the first three months of this year -- were issued when inspectors found Massey subsidiary Performance Coal exhibited an "unwarrantable failure" to comply with federal health and safety standards.

One of the most series withdrawal orders was issued in December 2009 under a section of federal law that allows inspectors to respond to "imminent danger" that "could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm."

The withdrawal orders likely covered only portions of the sprawling Raleigh County mine, but the MSHA document does not specify that. The document does not detail the exact violations that led to the withdrawal...

tom said...

Dear Gal, the people in that state are cowed by the ONLY source of jobs, the government is bought and paid for by coal, the Feds have very little sway there, perhaps NOW that there are so many dead and that we have new mine safety folk who as feds are NOT in the pocket of big coal perhaps some justice will come from this disaster....jeeze you would think this was the times of the Molly McGuires........
Perhaps THAT is what the coal fields need again....
You don't get me I'm part of the union ... you don'g get me I'm part of the Union till the day I die...