Thursday, February 02, 2006

Two More In West Virginia

From the Charleston Gazette:

"The two fatalities Wednesday, both in Boone County, come just after a month that saw 14 West Virginia miners die in two accidents. The 16 industry deaths so far in 2006 are the most reported in any entire year in West Virginia since 1995, when there were also 16.

At Long Branch Energy’s No. 18 Tunnel Mine near Wharton.. said Dirk Fillpot, a spokesman for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration....“The rib popped out from the side of the mine.”

This means that unmined coal, which is left in place to help support the area, gave way under excessive pressure. The issues in this type of accident are generally the same as in roof falls. Did the mine operator follow the approved roof control plan? Was the plan adequate? Had there been similar incidents or was there any other reason why the failure could be anticipated? Roof fall deaths nationwide increased last year despite the overall low record in coal mining deaths.

A miner at the same operation suffered a lost-time injury in another "rib roll" on January 6. The mine operator described it this way in a report to MSHA (emphasis mine):

"EE was changing scoop battery at mains battery station. He walked around front of scoop bucket and rib roll caught foot against scoop bucket. He returned to restricted duty work on 11/18/06."

(Obvious error in return-to-work date, must mean 1/18.) Also,
"At Massey Energy subsidiary Elk Run Coal Co.’s Black Castle Surface Mine near Williams Mountain, a dozer driver hit a gas well or a gas line. The driver was killed in the ensuing fire, according to state and federal officials."

Governor Manchin has asked all West Virginia coal mines to interrupt production and review their safety.

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