Rescuers Find Bodies of Missing Miners

Nov. 9, 2001
Rescuers have located the bodies of the nine missing miners who died in the explosion at the Jim Walters Resources Inc.'s No. 5 coal mine near Brookwood, Ala, on Sept. 23.

Rescuers have located the bodies of the nine missing miners who died in the explosion at the Jim Walters Resources Inc.''s No. 5 coal mine near Brookwood, Ala, on Sept. 23.

On Sept. 23, mine operators reported to MSHA that rocks fell from the roof of the mine and landed on a battery charger, causing sparks that ignited methane gas. A larger explosion followed and 13 miners were missing and presumed dead. Subsequent rescue efforts were hampered by elevated levels of methane gas. Eventually, the bodies of four miners were recovered.

This week, recovery teams started exploration of the Number 4 section of the mine. After exploring about 500 feet into the section, they found the remaining nine miners, all of whom were located in one general area. MSHA says the work to repair the ventilation controls and the erection of temporary seals must be done before the miners'' bodies can be removed from the mine.

New information has come to light that reveals that MSHA cited the mine for 31 safety violations on Sept. 14 and 18, just days before the explosion. Seven of those violations were "significant and substantial", according to MSHA.

All the violations near the area of the explosion were fixed before Sept. 23, according to a representative from the company.

"We know those were fixed," said Kyle Parks, a spokesperson for Walter Industries, parent company of Jim Walter Resources.

According to the company, none of the violations played a role in the Sept. 23 explosion, the deadliest coal mining disaster in the United States since 1984.

Three of the significant violations involved improper roof supports; two involved excess coal dust; and two more were for problems with conveyor belts that the inspector ordered shut down and fixed. Although all seven of the serious "significant and substantial" violations were likely to cause injury, MSHA spokesman said none of them warranted closing the mine.

Although MSHA records show the violations were not fixed, Brown admitted "that''s not a 100 percent certainty that they weren''t fixed."

The mine has logged 239 operator accidents since 1995, and has paid fines of over $600,000 for safety and health violations cited since 1995.

by Sandy Smith

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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