Thursday, January 05, 2006

West Virginia Mining Tragedy

Where to begin on this one?

Background – On Monday there was an explosion in a mine in West Virginia and thirteen miners were trapped. Late Tuesday night it was reported that twelve miners were found alive and one was dead. But by about 3 a.m. Wednesday, the numbers were reversed – twelve were dead and one was alive in critical condition. Unfortunately the families and the media both had the wrong information for hours. The worst part was that newspapers all over the country had headlines Wednesday morning proclaiming the miracle of finding the miners alive, hours after we all knew that a terrible mistake had been made. The papers had gone to press around midnight and it was too late to recall them.

First of all, I guess I’m very naïve. I didn’t know we still had people working in mines in this country. I guess I thought robots did the dangerous work now or humans controlled drills from afar. Why is it still necessary for people to work in mines? Are these people paid enough for the risks they are taking?

Second, this mining company where the accident took place was cited for major safety violations as late as three weeks ago! Why was the mine still operational?

Lastly, 45 minutes after it was mistakenly reported that the miners were found alive, the company knew that it had made a mistake. Why did it take three hours before they finally bothered to tell the men’s families the truth?

In the coming weeks I’m sure the mining company will be sued. And of course the mining company will try to say that the men who died caused the accident.

We’re off to a great start in 2006 as far as corporate responsibility goes, I see.


Lt. Cmdr Oneida said...

Actually, I think the mis-communication will be traced back to people over eager to share good news. It happens a lot in situations like these. A control center worker will hear something, and call a friend to let them know, who then takes it as truth and then calls another friends...

Mining is alive and well in the United States, and all over the world. We are actually a faily safe place to work in a mine. While the number of deaths seems high, it isn't, compared to deaths in other professions. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)oversees all mine safety compliance. This mine had just be sold/bought, and problems are usually found at that point. And I'm under the impression miners get paid well for what they do. 'Well' being much better/more than working at Wal-Mart and such. Probably twice to three times, depending on what you mine and amount of time you've worked.

Sadly, it is still necessary for people to work in mines. If you want to see truely heart breaking pictures and video, all you have to do is find pictures of miners out side the US and Canada. Children as young as 6 work in mines, with no respirators, and no safety oversight.

As for company responsibility... we'll see, I suppose. So far the cause of the accident has been thought to be lightning. If you want more mining info, let me know. And the majority of power in the US still comes from coal combustion.

Hope this helps

Chatty said...

They are saying that perhaps lightening struck some exhaust pipes thus causing the explosion. I am sure as time goes on answers will come out and many law suits will follow.

Michele sent me.

Michelle Pessoa said...

We are actually a faily safe place to work in a mine. While the number of deaths seems high, it isn't, compared to deaths in other professions.

I still say we should have droids to do this. :(