Thursday, November 02, 2006

Aracoma Report Coming Out After All

West Virginia has corrected its misstep on the Aracoma coal mine fire report, the Charleston Gazette reports:

The report will be released this afternoon, after it is provided to families of the two miners and to Massey officials, said Ron Wooten, director of the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training.

“Our plan is to have it on the Web by about 2 p.m.,” Wooten said. The agency’s Web site is .

Good decision. More to come later:

Davitt McAteer, Manchin’s special mine safety investigator, has not yet completed his independent review of the Aracoma fire. Federal prosecutors are also continuing a criminal investigation, U.S. Attorney Chuck Miller said Wednesday.

And the MSHA report as well.

In a heartening development, the Montgomery, W.Va., Herald reports:

MONTGOMERY — Rep. Nick Rahall and others gathered here late last month with the hope that a year which began in mourning and tragedy for West Virginia coal miners and their families can end with optimism for a safer future.....

Rahall was in town to unveil the Mine Safety Technology Consortium, a key element of the Mine Safety Technology Innovation Capability and Regional Business Development Program. The project will have its headquarters in Montgomery....

The $4 million project is funded by a $2 million Economic Development Authority grant and $1 million in state funding. Private donations, including $200,000 from State Electric and $100,000 from Arch Coal, also helped bring the concept to fruition.

Take note of the private funding. Arch Coal deserves kudos for stepping up to the plate. In other countries like Australia and South Africa, mining companies regularly pool funds to support safety research. Here, it's rare -- in fact, this might be the first time a mining firm has done something like this.

Arch's news release:

...The Arch Coal Foundation today announced that it would donate a total of $100,000 over the next three years to Marshall University's new Mine Safety Technology Innovation Capability and Regional Business Development program.

"This program will help focus some of the country's best minds on identifying new technologies and practices for the next generation of coal mining safety," said Steven F. Leer, chairman and chief executive officer of Arch Coal, Inc. "As a long-standing supporter of mine safety initiatives, we're pleased to provide financial backing to the academic community to help discover and deploy cutting-edge technologies that will advance the coal industry and its safety practices."...

In other good news, 16 Chinese miners have dug their own way out after a landslide at the mine entrance trapped them inside, according to an Aussie media report:

Sixteen miners trapped for 14 hours in a northwestern China coal mine have dug themselves out, state press reported Thursday.

The miners were trapped in the Deshun coal mine near Lanzhou city, Gansu province, mid-morning Wednesday when 1.4 million cubic meters of mud slid down a mountain and blocked the mine entrance, Xinhua news agency said.

"We were frightened at the beginning, but we soon calmed down because we knew we were not far from the ground surface," the report quoted a miner surnamed Wang as saying.

"Later we heard the sound of excavators digging and that boosted our morale enormously."

The miners dug an eight-meter (26-foot) tunnel with shovels and other mining tools taking 14 hours to reach freedom, it said....

But unfortunately, at least 29 didn't make it out after an explosion, also in China, the International Herald Tribune reported:

The death toll in a coal mine explosion in western China rose by nine to 29 as rescuers found more bodies in the shaft, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Another 19 workers were injured in the blast, which tore through the Weijiadi mine Tuesday in Baiyin, a city in Gansu province, Xinhua said.

Some 71 workers were working underground at the time and 36 managed to escape, it said. Another six were rescued later, Xinhua said in a report late Tuesday....


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