Thursday, March 27, 2008


After waaaaaaaaaaaay too long. Been feeling bad about the gap for ages. Trouble is, guilt is the most paralyzing emotion. But onward.

First, updates related to a couple of fatal cases:

The state of Kentucky has come out with its report on the death of Roy Douglas Sturgill II, 29, this January 8 at the Cumberland River Coal Co. Blue Ridge Surface Mine, the Herald-Leader reports.

Kentucky mine safety officials have issued multiple citations in the death of a young miner who backed his rock truck over a highwall at a Letcher County strip mine.

...Sturgill...had worked at the Blue Ridge Mine in Ovenfork for less than three week...backed his Caterpillar rock truck over a dumping point at 12:45 a.m.

...There are no monetary fines for citations issued by the state on strip mines....

This was the first U.S. coal mining death in 2008. The MSHA report is still pending along with several others from last year.

AP picked up that MSHA has proposed some substantial fines at the Genesis, Inc., Troy Mine in Lincoln County, Mont.

But read carefully: the agency database as of today indicates that a penalty remains to be proposed for the single violation cited as contributory in the death of underground mechanic Michael E. Ivins, 55, last July 30. The roof fell on him as he sat in the cab of a truck.

MSHA cited the alleged contributory violation last August, stating:

Adequate ground support was not installed and maintained in the area to control the ground. The mine operator had knowledge of the unstable ground conditions in the area where the accident occurred. Failure to install and maintain adequate ground support to protect miners from ground fall hazards constitutes more than ordinary negligence and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with a mandatory standard.

AP is saying MSHA has now proposed the penalties for several alleged subsequent violations.

The fines...include $38,500 for not keeping workers safe while removing loose rock from the underground mine's ceiling and $44,600 for not properly supporting the mine's roof.

The company is contesting those alleged violations.

The Journal of Public Health reportedly is about to publish a study showing that health effects from coal mining extend beyond mine workers.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune,

WVU [West Virginia University] says the study found hospitalization rates rise with coal production and that coal pollution may kill 313 West Virginians a year.

The website Science Daily has more:

“Residents of coal-mining communities have long complained of impaired health,” Michael Hendryx, Ph.D., associate director of the WVU Institute for Health Policy Research in WVU’s Community Medicine department, said. “This study substantiates their claims. Those residents are at an increased risk of developing chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases....

"We’ve considered that chronic illness might be prevalent in these areas because rural West Virginians have less access to health care, higher smoking rates and poorer economic conditions,” Hendryx said. “We’ve adjusted our data to include those factors, and still found disease rates higher in coal-mining communities.”

...Their next steps are to directly measure air and water quality in coal-mining communities.

Foreign news: China has jailed some mine managers held responsible for a disastrous explosion.

SHIJIAZHUANG, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Nine coal mine managers were sentenced to between two and six years in jail for a coal mine blast that killed 108 miners and injured 29 others in north China's Hebei Province...Shang Zhiguo, head of the Liuguantun colliery, was sentenced to six years in jail...The deputy head Li Qixin, who was also in charge of production safety, was jailed for five years...

The coal mine investor Zhu Wenyou and head of the mine safeguard department Lv Xuezeng were jailed for three years each. The mine ventilation department chief Liu Wencheng was jailed for fours years. Another four managers were sentenced to between two and four years in jail...

The gas blast was a serious accident caused by the illegal operation of the mine, Li Yizhong, former director of the State Administration of Work Safety, had said.
The coal mine was still under construction and did not have a production licence...the original design of the coal mine had been changed without approval... The coal mine, formerly state-owned and with a designed annual production capacity of 300,000 tons, was privatized in 2002.

Unfortunately, two new disastrous accidents in Chinese mines also are in the news:

ZHENGZHOU, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Two rescue operations in Chinese collieries to save a total of 10 miners trapped underground after separate accidents left a total of 10 dead.
Nine died in the first accident in a gas outburst in central China's Hunan Province at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday... Three workers managed to escape from the blast, which brought about 100 tons of coal down from the coal bed.

Four teams of rescuers were on rotation in the rescue operation, but tunnels were blocked by rubble that hindered the search.

The mine's operating permit and production license expired early last year, and it was not approved for operation, either, said Peng Youming, vice director of Chenzhou City Coal Mine Safety Bureau.

The gas monitoring system had not been in use due to a breakdown before the accident, Peng said. The colliery was privately owned and being merged with other mines under the local government's plan to reform the mining industry.

Another miner is dead and five are trapped below ground after a coal pit collapsed on Wednesday in central China's Henan Province....

Rescuers found two injured people, one of whom died later in hospital. Police are seeking the owner of the privately owned coal mine, Qin said....

Finally, oh, the shame. Someone has recently created a small flurry in the blog world with a new website titled "ShameOnElaine" that focuses on Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. Among the complaints made on the website are a number related to mine safety.

I have no idea who these people are, and was surprised to notice they listed MineSafetyWatch in their Blogroll.

The least I could do, I feel is to make sure there is something current on the MineSafetyWatch website in case anyone follows the link. The long gap since the previous entries really has been a matter of shame to me.


Blogger Wordsmith said...

Welll, welcome 'back.' I stopped by the other day and noted the, uh, lapse.

I'll have to check out the Elaine Chao site.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back your blog was missed

1:03 PM  

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