Monday, April 05, 2010
Mining Disaster in West Virginia .....After Explosion at the Upper Branch of the Perfomance Mine owned by Massey Energy
This article is one of the first explains that the Massey Mine Explosion has killed atleast 12 and 12-17 are missing at this time. It is a mine that is 30 miles South of Charleston and has a riddled Safety Record.Upper Branch Mine, in Montcoal, W.Va. is where the explosion occurred at about 3:30PM this afternoon (AP report)
Seattle Times has updates through the day, starting with 7 reported dead and then 10, then 12 and as of MN they are reporting 25 dead. There are has been confusion as to how many were down and the number of missing.There also have been no reports of the Methane Readings, so another concern is the safety of the Rescue Workers. It was over 1000 feet down that the explosion occurred, and the Long Wall Mining they were involved in is in a range/field that has had a history of Methane Problems and Shaft shlumping and collapses. Methane Gas combined with coal dust can create or contribute to unexpected explosions. This Area in particular has history or safety violations related to Methane Readings.
More From the Seattle Times Article:
"Rescuers had been making their way to the area where the miners were believed trapped at Massey Energy Co.'s sprawling Upper Big Branch mine, where the blast occurred around 3 p.m. Monday. However, safety officials said at a news conference that the search was suspended because rising methane gas levels in the mine made it a high risk for another explosion.Earlier, Kevin Stricklin, an administrator for the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, said officials hoped some of the missing survived the initial blast and were able to reach airtight chambers stocked with food, water and enough oxygen for them to live for four days. However, rescue teams made it to one of two nearby shelters and it was empty. The gas levels prevented them from reaching the second.Massey Energy and safety officials confirmed that 25 bodies were found. The death toll had risen from seven earlier in the day to 12 at about midnight. A total of 29 miners were in the area when the blast happened, he said.
"It does not appear that any of the individuals made it to a rescue chamber," Stricklin said at a news conference. "The situation is dire."
This report raises Questions about Massey and their Subsidiary "Performance" and their safety record, is very much a mixed bag.
Daily Mail has more information on the Safety Issues that raise concerns as to the extent of violations related to methane, ventilation. MSHA violations were over 400 last year, and 53 since the beginning of the year.
"Safety inspectors concluded as recently as last month that conditions at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine posed substantial and significant risks to miner well-being before a Monday explosion killed 25 miners and trapped nearly 4.In March alone, U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials cited the mine, which is owned by Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co., for failing to control dust; improperly planning to ventilate the mine of dust and the combustible gas methane; inadequate protection from roof falls; failing to maintain proper escapeways; and allowing the accumulation of combustible materials.
Since 1995, there have been more than 3,000 violations at Upper Big Branch, though it was not immediately clear how that compared to other mines of its size.Of the $1.5 million in penalties MSHA proposed since 2007, Massey has actually paid less than $300,000."
SourceWatch reports that Massey Energy is one of the biggest Coal Mining Companies, mining 42.5 Million tons of coal, most of the operations are utilize Mountaintop Mining, Massey is the number one Appalacian Coal Mining Company and one of the biggest in the Country.
2:12AM 4.6.10 LATimes just sent this out :
25 miners are dead in W. Va. explosion. Massey Energy said late Monday that the death toll had risen to 25 in the West Virginia mine explosion, which is now the worst U.S. mine disaster since 1984.Spokesman Jeff Gillenwater said four are missing and the rescue mission has been halted, Associated Press reported.
Full LATimes article out at 4AM EST, has new details about the death of the 25 miners.
The UK Telegraph is reporting the death of 25 Miners,but it is stating that 10 are missing. Hopefully Massey Energy will clarify a more accurate account, or clarify if any of the Search Crews are missing.
This CBS report also reports of Safety Violations and Fines, raising questions about the Record at this particular mine and questions about Safety. Sadly This was a mine that has no Union, therefore there is no one to report concerns or committees to monitor after fines and violations.
Thinks Progress has more on the horrific safety records of Massey and this mine.Please do read this link, fairly astounding.
4am BBC has fully updated story with video of the death of the 25 Miners.
(( Enigma Note: anyone who has read my blog over the years knows I cover all Mining Disasters....Especially in Virginia and Kentucky..as that is my roots..my kin. As they are not a Union Mine, I will post the Donation Funds that will be set up for the Families.))
Natalie Merchant "Which Side are you on " ( Song by Miner Wife Florence Reece and she wrote this while her husband fought for the rights of the Miners to Unionize it's a poignant song ...many in the Appalacian Mts know this song....)
Thursday April 8th AM : Rescue Crews will enter mines early this AM to search for four missing miners...
Los Angeles Times | April 8, 2010 | 12:45 a.m.
Rescue crews going back into mine.Rescue crews are expected to enter the Upper Big Branch mine early Thursday to search for four miners who are unaccounted for following the devastating explosion that killed 25 miners on Monday, federal mine safety officials announced.Four teams of eight men each will wear breathing devices and ride and walk up to five miles underground. They will attempt to reach two air-tight safety chambers, about 2,500 feet apart, where officials hope the miners were able to reach if they survived the explosion.It could take the teams two to three hours to reach the chambers, depending on the amount of debris they encounter, officials said.
((Enigma note: it took 5 Drilled Boring holes to let the gases out...and to reach safe levels for Search&rescue crews re-enter the mines. Sadly today the MSM will all be focused in the Tiger Golf match, I hope instead they will cover the Miners, especially as these brave Rescuers re-enter the mines. It is still a very dangerous mission to search for the four and also plan the recovery of the bodies of the other 25. The Families of this community need their loved ones brought out.))
Update 10:15AM CNN reporting that the Rescue Crews have to be brought out due to high methane gas levels. It is unclear how far in they had gotten and as of 11:30AM if they have reached the surface. Fricklin reported that the levels were explosive.
NYT has more on the condtions and problems under ground.