MSHA Responds to Ala. Mine Emergency

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is closely monitoring activities at the site of a mine explosion that left several dead and several missing near Brookwood, Ala.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is closely monitoring activities and has specialized equipment en route to assist in the emergency at the mine explosion that left several dead and several missing at the Jim Walter Resoureces Inc.''s No. 5 Mine, near Brookwood, Ala.

At about 5:45 p.m. Central Time, Sunday, Jim Walter Resources reported to MSHA that a roof fall had occurred at the mine followed by an ignition of methane gas, and that miners were unaccounted for.

MSHA immediately placed a control order on the mine site under which MSHA must evaluate for safety and approve all actions taken during the emergency.

"MSHA officials have been at the mine all night and will remain as long as the emergency continues," said MSHA Administrator Dave Lauriski. "There have been fatalities, and our hearts go out to the families of the miners who have lost their lives. Other miners are missing, and we are working with the company and the miners'' representatives as they make plans to reach the missing miners while safeguarding the teams."

Monday morning, rescue teams were withdrawn from the mine after they encountered elevated levels of methane gas, which indicate danger of another potential explosion.

MSHA''s mobile gas analysis laboratory and communications center are on hand at the mine.

Once the emergency is over and the mine is made safe for investigators, MSHA will conduct a complete investigation into the accident, Lauriski said.

by Virginia Foran

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