Update: Unfortunately, the four missing mine workers were found and did not survive this terrible industrial mining accident. Here are two videos detailing the tragedy…
As Posted on 4/06/10: 25 coal miners were killed and 4 workers remain missing in Charleston, West Virginia (WV) after an explosion occurred at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, according to BBC News.
There is hope that the missing mine workers can survive and will be found since this particular mine has pockets of extra oxygen along emergency escape routes and airtight refuge chambers designed to provide enough air to keep miners alive for up to four days if they are stuck or seriously injured in the mine, according to Engineering Consultant Randy Harris.
Another glimmer of hope is the fact that federal law requires all underground mines to have wireless communications and tracking systems designed to survive explosions and other disasters, according to the Associated Press. Unfortunately, not all mines comply with these federal standards but they all have systems that meet West Virginia requirements.
Here’s a video of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin talking about this industrial accident…
This mine has a record of poor performance for keeping their workers safe. Over the last 12 years, at least three lives have been lost at the Upper Big Branch mine. In addition, Massey Energy Co. was behind in paying their fines for recent safety violations, according to CBS News. Specifically, the mine was fined a total of $188,769 but has only paid $2,676 so far, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Some of these violations included roof falls, which are cracking and collapsing of the mine sidewalls. This occurred in November and December of 2009 and in February of 2010. The mine was also cited twice for violating the standard for ventilation and for poor air quality just last month.
This is the worst mining accident since 2006 in WV when 12 miners were killed in a methane explosion at the Sago Mine. Last year, 34 mine workers were killed in industrial accidents.
I want to send my deepest condolences out to the famillies of the mine workers killed and sincerely hope the missing workers are found and recover from this terrible event.
About the Editors: Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm (VA-NC law offices ) edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono service to consumers.