Coal Power cautions coal industry, more explosions if companies ignore basic coal mine safety

Coal Power cautions coal industry, more explosions if companies ignore basic coal mine safety

Just over a year ago the mining industry experienced its worst catastrophe in over four decades, one year later, reminds the industry that recent increased demand, could present another calamity.

(EMAILWIRE.COM, June 15, 2011 ) Clarksville, KY — J. Davitt McAteer reported that he and his squad of the Governor’s self-governing examination Panel (GIIP) had blasted both Massey Energy Company and the regulators involved in what seemed to most people, to be a very methodical examination of the events neighboring the massive explosion at Upper Big Ranch (UBB) which occurred on April 5, 2010.

The report explained that the explosion was caused by a spark from a portion of machinery which ignited methane gas, which in turn ignited explosive coal dust. Rock dust, which is used in mining to assist in making the highly explosive coal dust inert, had not been sprayed in the area of the explosions for quite some time.

International Journalism Review (IJR), contacted Bernard Fitzpatrick of New Century Coal, who actually originally reported this caution via their website. Fitzpatrick stated that the current state of the economy mixed with the rising demand for coal point to disaster if you go through the McAteer report in detail. Fitzpatrick stated, “McAteer’s report also revealed that UBB sent production reports to Blankenship every 30 minutes, and if a report was late, they risked losing their jobs. This is of grave concern as these days jobs are very hard to come by, so common sense tells us that sending production reports would take precedent over any safety concern that could delay it.”

Fitzpatrick also pointed out specifics regarding certain testimonies such as the statement presented by the “rock duster.” The miner responsible for rock dusting usually worked the midnight shift, according to his testimony before McAteer’s team, investigators from MSHA and investigators from the W.Va. Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training. The miner, Nathaniel Jeter, told the investigators that rock dusting was a full time job at the mine, but he was always pulled off of the task to do construction jobs and jobs related to the production of coal. Fitzpatrick said it’s one thing to be multi-tasked, however, he concurred that it is a full time job that shouldn’t be broken up.

McAteer’s account listed several failures that led to the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion. Ventilation systems were not adequate or maintained. In addition water nozzles, which are planned to knock down sparks, were disabled or plugged on the mine’s long wall and on the shearers. Rock dust, which is supposed to be used to help inert flammable coal dust, was not used as it should have been. Fitzpatrick stated, “Fire safety 101 dictates to have adequate ventilation systems, and disabled water nozzles points to a lack of qualified safety personal in my opinion and it points to a natural problem if the coal industry tries to cut corners when hiring or loses focus because of the increased U.S. coal demand being generated from countries without natural resources.”

“The biggest problem I see is individuals in the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and State Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training keep losing staffing as the demand for coal continues to rise. This fossil fuel shows no signs of lost demand in the next 25 years if you side with the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and their predictions for coal continuing its position as the dominant fuel for power generation until 2035. These predictions come even with the increased predictions of natural gas and renewable fuel utilization during the same time period.”

The world learns from history, in this case, it is stressed that the coal industry adhere to basic guidelines and protocol. They should do this as if there was no governing agency watching over them, but rather in the spirit of avoiding another tragedy and taking accountability for the safety of its workers.

International Journalism Review/ / 347 882 4943 or 949 533 8454
Company: International Journalism Review
Contact: Chris Sloan / Senior Journalist / M.S.
Phone: 949 533-8353
Email: InternationaljournalismReview[@]

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