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 that is 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.


Fran said...

I'm very sorry for the losses and the hell this situation is, but when will we stop hearing politicians pitching the virtues of "Safe, Clean Coal"?

enigma4ever said...

we can talk about clean coal another time...
not tonite...

my concern tonite is the families..
I have kin down there and in Ky...many outside Charlestown and more in other areas..

railroad and coal kept and keep many of them alive...
and sadly this mine should have been unionized it would have save lives with so many violations....

this mine was know for problems...

and with no union there was no one for the miners to go to with concerns...and no one monitoring the stacks of violations and unpaid fines...

and now the families...left to bury them..if they can get them out... so sad..

and will the Massey company even care for these poor right by them...

enigma4ever said...

4am NOW they are giving a Presser on CNN:::

58 or 60 down there change of shift BUT they think that there were only 29 or 30 down was change of shift some were coming and going.

25 KNOWN dead,
7 identified and 4 MISSING...

WCHS report...

( questions being asked)

the Person giving the presser said " I did not know how bad the explosion was and that maybe they got to safety zones"

( yet reports up above make it clear that NO ONE reached a safety zone)

now there is mumbling off to side 2 of a minetrail/mintrip ( the shuttle) -
7 perished and 2 are in hospital....

( the actual explosion was one half miles back)

"Blast" is the word they use, ( it means "Explosion")

they are admitting that visibility is only 2.5 feet and that the methane readings are too high. He said atleast 18 bodies are still in there and need to be brought out, and 7 have been removed.

( He said that the drilling procedure was about to start? don't know what that means)

Kevin Stricklin is giving report now, he said that no all miners are identified-he said the dead are left by the rescuers, and they are only down there to rescue....he said they brought 2 out and that they are in hospital.

((Kevin Stricklin does not look well -maybe he is tired, he was slurry and wobbly and looked confused))

NO one is identified with name tage or titles( as usual)

enigma4ever said...

from FOxnews (who I hate to quote or cite)

In 2006, 12 miners were killed after a methane explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia. After that tragedy, state lawmakers made several changes to safety standards, and Congress passed a law requiring mine operators to store extra oxygen and take other precautions.

Officials are pointing to a methane build-up again in Tuesday's disaster.

"You can see the destruction that it causes," said Kevin Stricklin, an administrator with the Mine Safety and Health Administration, who pledged a "full investigation."

In the past year, federal inspectors fined the operating company more than $382,000 for repeated serious violations involving its ventilation plan and equipment at Upper Big Branch. The violations also cover failing to follow the plan, allowing combustible coal dust to pile up, and having improper firefighting equipment.

Ellen Smith, owner of Mine Safety and Health News, told Fox News that the latest violation, for ventilation problems, came on March 30.

Manchin said he did not know the "specifics" of the company's violations, but he said state and federal officials "are responsible for these inspections."

"I can't tell you what happened," he said. "We'll find out and when we do, we'll fix it."

The audit from the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General found that the lapse in veteran training came during a big build-up in hiring. Of the 358 entry-level inspectors in fiscal 2008, 282 were designated to coal mines. According to the report, MSHA officials said some inspectors were unable to find the time to attend training because they were so busy investigating a series of recent mining accidents.

enigma4ever said...

Jeff Goddell "Big Coal" on MSNBC this AM
explaining about Blankenship the Massey Coal Barron....

enigma4ever said...

MSNBC aired noon press conference....
no news on the 4 missing, they are still trying to drill for methane release...

( CNN did not air conference? or maybe they did I switched channel-and it was a coal ad..)

tom said...

Obama has appointed a much stronger mining secretary, and enforecement has increased, but the coal barons are so much like god...tear mountains down, violate safety law, LOOK, miners have been killed by mine gasses since they invented mines, it's not like the mine owners actually give a shit
The miners might as well be working in CHINESE mines for crissake

enigma4ever said...

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

enigma4ever said...

thanks tom...
sadly the MSHA was gutted by Bush...and it's still a mess...

I don't know what will happen...

Coal barrons still have alotta $$$$ and power...

enigma4ever said...

the search crews have been down for over an hour, they will go 5miles in they do have extra O2.

CNN word should take up to 3 hours to reach where they think the 4 missing miners are.

enigma4ever said...

Naoma, West Virginia (CNN)
-- Rescuers in a West Virginia coal mine have had to turn back because of deterioriating air quality, Gov. Joe Manchin said.
The rescue crews were on the way out as of about 10:15 a.m. Thursday, said Kevin Stricklin of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Gases create an "explosive atmosphere" in the mine, he said. "We think [the rescuers] are in danger and that's the whole intent of evacuating."
The rescuers -- 32 in all -- were attempting to reach four miners who are unaccounted for following a Monday explosion that killed at least 25 miners. Officials hope the missing miners were able to reach an airtight rescue chamber.
"It is still a rescue mission," Stricklin said.
Video: A mining mother's agony Video: Mine survivor: Eyes 'filled with dirt' Video: Mining's treacherous legacy Video: Rep. Rahall: Implement and enforce

"The only chance ... we still have yet is if [the missing miners] could have made it to the chambers," Manchin said Wednesday.
If that happened, then the miners would have time on their side, since each chamber is equipped with enough air and supplies to keep 15 miners alive for 96 hours, he said.

The Upper Big Branch South Mine is about 30 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia.
Rescue teams were forced to turn back Tuesday because unsafe levels of methane and carbon monoxide posed a risk of a second explosion.
Thirty-one men were working in the mine at the time of the blast Monday afternoon, said Chris Adkins, chief operating officer for Massey Energy Co., which owns the mine. The bodies of seven miners were removed and 18 more bodies were found underground, but not removed.
Officials said that was because rescue teams were focused on finding survivors before being turned back.
Two injured miners were hospitalized, with one "doing extremely well" and the other in intensive care, Manchin said. He did not give their names and said their families had requested privacy.
Miner's wife amazed at her husband's 'tenacity' after fatal accident
Authorities believe they know where all four of the unaccounted-for miners were working at the time of the blast, officials have said.
Relatives "know the odds are not in our favor" of finding any of the four alive, Manchin said, "... but that's what we're still holding on to."
The group of 18 dead miners was in an area where longwall cutting was taking place. The technique uses a large grinder to extract the coal and creates large amounts of coal dust and methane. Both are explosive.
"We're focused," Stricklin said. "It is what it is and this is what we're dealing with right now. It's nothing compared with what the families are going through. And I always try to keep that in mind that we'll do whatever it takes to bring this to some type of conclusion."
CNN's Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report.