Another mine accident

By Brian S

S_img_dotikiLast night, one miner was killed and another remains missing after a roof collapse at a mine in Kentucky.  The mine, operated by Alliance Resource Partners, was one of the most dangerous in America, having earned 321 citations, 35% more than Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 in West Virginia earlier in April.  It ranks 7th on MSHA’s list of mines with the most “significant & substantial” citations.

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Alliance is an Oklahoma based mining company with mines in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia.

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As I noted three weeks ago, coal mining remains one of the most dangerous jobs in America.  I sincerely hope that the inspection efforts the Obama Administration is undertaking in response to the Big Branch mine disaster earlier this month will help make these mines safer for the men and women who work them.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the lost men.

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Comments

  • RichmondDem says:

    I just really hope this doesn’t lead to more coal companies doing so-called “above ground mining”, aka mountaintop removal mining. It’s such a horrible practice environmentally and leads to FEWER jobs.

  • grapefruit says:

    I hate mountains. kill em all!

  • Brian S says:

    RD, that’s the catch-22. Mountaintop removal is safer, but requires fewer miners and is horrible for the environment. No easy solutions.

  • Cato the Elder says:

    “Mountaintop removal is safer”
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    Tell that to the parents of this little tyke. No easy solutions, I agree, but IMO MR is a despicable business practice (albeit good for the bottom line).
    *
    http://www.roanoke.com/news/nrv/mountaintop/wb/71870

  • Brian S says:

    Wow. That’s crazy, Cato.
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    I’m opposed to MR as well. Regardless of how much safer it may be, it’s far more damaging to the environment.

  • Elder Berry says:

    Safer is relative. The attitude that we have limitless access to energy just because we can locate the resources has consequences. The coal and petroleum resources we have left are difficult and expensive to get to and remove. The energy corporations want to keep up their business, but we’re going to pay a price one way or the other for not conserving energy. It really is a national crisis that no one powerful in either party wants to admit or address.

  • AFF says:

    What this surfacing about an FBI investigation involving Massey, bribes and the MSHA?http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/04/fbi_probing_fed_officials_and.html
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    As to MTR, I can’t bring myself to look at another link. If you go down to coal country there’s an outfit which will give free “scenic” tours by airplane to view the utter devastation of the watershed

  • Cato the Elder says:

    Kinda on topic, a few of my federal LE friends are headed to New Orleans this weekend. Interesting if this oil spill business turns out to be a little more than an accident.

  • Dan says:

    Please don’t get the conspiracy theorists started. It will just keep spinning to the ever more ridiculous. It will be the “eco-terrorists” trying to stop new offshore drilling. Then it will be Halliburton stooges disguised as eco-terrorists in order to discredit them and open the way for even more offshore drilling. And no amount of subsequent factual information will dissuade any of them. It will be the crazy 9/11 truthers and the crazy birthers all over again only worse.
    .
    I realize I am at the other end of the scale. I think Oswald acted alone and I don’t believe that Secretary of War Stanton was involved in the Lincoln assassination. But in the age of the internet the conspiracy theory wackos are so damned unavoidable. And so annoyingly mindless. Don’t get them started on this too.

  • tx2vadem says:

    Depressing, all around depressing.

  • Cato the Elder says:

    Just sayin’ Dan. Could be criminal charges against some corporate bad actor, I don’t have a clue why they’re headed there, just that they are.

  • Cato the Elder says:

    And if you think about it you almost *have* to cover your bases on a huge explosion like that.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Why did two fail safe devices fail (at least that is my understanding)? Someone’s head has got to roll.

  • tx2vadem says:

    Makes sense to me, the FBI is out talking to Massey. I would think they would here as well given BP’s track record. I thought James Baker had taught those folks a lesson about what was wrong with their corporate culture. What happened?

  • Mr. Slate says:

    Maybe if MSHA spent less time writing up citations for unflushed toilets and trash can lids not being properly placed on the receptacles (heaven forbid that an empty potato chip bag be visible in a break room!) — both of which are among multiple true stories that you can find easily using Google — and spent more time concentrating on actually safety issues, we wouldn’t be in this mess. (And so many citations wouldn’t be contested — because if you have an unflushed toilet and an askew trash can lid in the kitchen, you’re guilty of a pattern of violations.) In fact, according to the NY Times, an MSHA inspector was at the Upper Big Branch mine the same day the accident happened, during which according to his notes he inspected the toilet.

    Does anyone in government understand that methane gas in a mine is a higher safety priority than a toilet full of piss?

  • Gretchen Laskas says:

    I’m late to posting, but I wanted to say thanks to Brian for posting about the KY tragedy. And to Cato for posting the link about the little boy killed by the boulder as a result of Mountain Top Removal a few years back. It’s easy for stories like these to be lost in the larger stories of the WV mine or the LA explosion, but each of these people left behind a family. They know the risks better than anyone, but it doesn’t make their grief any easier to bear.

  • Brian S says:

    Gretchen, you’re welcome. I thought it a good idea to highlight what happened in a non-partisan way. Unfortunately, it looks like some others who were quick to highlight West Virginia because of the political hay they could make seem to have ignored this completely, despite the company being even worse than Massey on paper.

  • Cato the Elder says:

    “Why did two fail safe devices fail”
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    I don’t think there were two devices involved. Acoustic back ups to trigger the blow out aren’t required by US law, so my bet is they weren’t present.

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