District 7 - Coal Mine Safety and Health
This Month in District 7 History
On January 30, 1922, an explosion occurred at the Layman-Calloway Coal Company, located in Bell County, Kentucky, and approximately 20 miles from Pineville. The mine was working in the thirty-three (33) inch Mason coal seam. The coal was shot from the solid using black powder, a practice that was common for mining in this seam at the time. The resulting explosion killed six (6) men and seriously injured two (2) others.
The mine used a two (2) entry system with rooms driven off the right and left entries. Ventilation was accomplished by using a furnace to pull air through the mine. The report of this accident, written by C.A. Herbert, District Engineer, Bureau of Mines, Vincennes, Indiana, drew the following conclusions: The apparent cause of the explosion was due to an overloaded drill hole in the coal face, which was stemmed with coal dust and shot from the solid. The deadly explosion was propagated by excessive amounts of coal dust along the entries and the face.
On January 4, 1989, at approximately 2:40 p.m., a sudden roof fall occurred at the Cumberland Valley Contractors, Incorporated, CV-2 Mine. The mine was located approximately 7.4 miles west of State Route 74 near Middlesboro in Bell County, Kentucky. Three (3) miners died as a result of the roof fall on the 001 section when a final push-out was taken on the No. 4 pillar while retreat mining. The last victim was recovered from the accident scene at approximately 12:10 p.m. on January 5, 1989.
The accident and resultant fatalities occurred when an undetected �horseback� fell as the final push-out of a coal pillar was being mined. The investigation concluded that contributing factors to the accident included; failure to leave in-place a sufficient corner stump to support the intersection, failure to set the required number of timbers for the cut taken, and failure to restrict persons from entering a hazardous area during retreat mining. All factors were found to be violations of the Approved Roof Control Plan.
-Never smoke underground or allow smoking in the mine. Report all smoking violations to your supervisor or to MSHA.
-Always follow your approved ventilation, clean-up, and roof control plans. Apply rock dust liberally. Make frequent examinations for methane, permissibility, and changing roof conditions.
-If you believe these things couldn�t happen to you or your co-workers because they are past history� you�re wrong!!!! Just don�t be dead wrong!
-Remember these brave men, their wives and children, but especially remember your own families.
On February 3, 1987 at approximately 3:45 p.m., a fatal machinery accident occurred at the No. 1 Surface Mine operated by Energy Producers Association, Inc. located at Hulen, in Bell County, Kentucky.
The resultant accident occurred when the operator of a D-9G dozer overturned while tramming the dozer in reverse on an inclined roadway leading to a drill bench. The operator of the dozer failed to recognize the hazards associated with operating the dozer in close proximity to the outslope edge of the roadway. The position of the dozer led to failure of the outslope along the roadway, thereby causing the dozer to overturn and roll approximately (181) one hundred and eighty one feet before coming to rest at the bottom of the slope. The dozer operator died as a result of his injuries. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, although a seatbelt was provided on the dozer. The victim was a co-owner of the mine and had 14 years surface mining experience; he had spent most of his life operating heavy equipment.
On February 7, 1986 at approximately 1:30 a.m., a powered haulage accident occurred at the No. 3 Mine, operated by H. Cameron Coal Company at Devonia in Anderson County, Tennessee. The operator of the Wilcox roof-bolting machine received fatal injuries when his head was pinned between the boom of the machine and the mine roof.
There were no eyewitnesses to the accident. Only conclusions about what may have happened can be drawn from this accident. Evidence indicated that the operator was riding on the side of the machine or climbing on the top of the machine to retrieve something. It was the conclusion of the accident investigation team that the operator had depressed the boom activating lever causing the boom and head of the roof bolting machine to raise and trap the victim's head between the boom and the mine roof. The victim was the section foreman and had 30 years mining experience.
On February 29, 1988, a fatal accident occurred at the Angela No. 1 Mine, operated by Double Q, Inc. at Clairfield in Claiborne County, Tennessee. This accident took place on the surface area of the Angela No. 1 Mine and resulted in the fatality of one miner and injury to a co-worker. The fatality was attributed to the explosion of a Type B acetylene tank.
Two maintenance workers were repairing a scoop located on the surface of the underground mine. The two men had just changed an empty acetylene tank and replaced it with a fully charged tank. One worker was located on top of the scoop with the cutting torch and the other worker was adjusting the regulator on the tanks. When the explosion occurred the man on top of the scoop was blown from the scoop too the side opposite the tanks and his co-worker. He called to his co-worker to come and help him but he did not respond. After making his way around the scoop to the area of the tanks he could not find any sign of the other man.
The resultant explosion left a devastating path of destruction. There were two holes found in a concrete block wall, which was part of a supply building. The building was approximately nineteen feet from the site of the explosion and was marked by one hole that measured seven inches by eight inches and another hole that measured four inches by five inches. The larger hole contained what appeared to be the bottom of the acetylene tank. Too the left of the explosion at approximately eight feet and six inches was a Dodge truck. The oxygen bottle was wedged in the rear wheel of the truck. The top of the acetylene regulator and a piece of the tank were found forty two and one-half feet from the site lying next to the mine portal. A battery light and hard hat liner were found in front and to the right of the front of the scoop.
The conclusion as to the exact cause of this accident was not certain. Three scenarios were developed and scientific and investigative evidence was used to form the opinions of the investigation team. In short, the conclusion was that oxygen was probably introduced into the line that connected to the acetylene side of the torches. This could have been accomplished by depletion of the acetylene thereby allowing backflow of the oxygen into the acetylene side of the lines. The ignition source could have been simple friction in the delivery line on the acetylene side, where with oxygen present it would have taken only 1/1500 the amount of energy to ignite the easiest ignitable mixture of methane in air mixture to propagate the explosion of the tank. Another possible source of ignition may have been from lighting the torch. There were no pressure gauges used on the regulators of the tanks at the time of the accident. The victim and the injured had not received annual refresher training in the last twelve months. Both men were experienced miners and maintenance workers. The victim had a total of fourteen years mining experience.
-THE ACCIDENTS CHRONICLED ABOVE HAVE ONE COMMON THREAD. THEY ALL INVOLVE OPERATOR OR INDIVIDUAL FAILURE TO OBSERVE HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH A GIVEN TASK.
-BEFORE BEGINNING A JOB, BE SURE THAT YOU HAVE THE PROPER TASK TRAINING.
-IT IS YOUR RIGHT TO RECEIVE PROPER TRAINING AND HAVE AVAILABLE TO YOU THE PROPER EQUIPMENT TO DO A GIVEN JOB SAFELY.
-STOP AND THINK ABOUT THE HAZARDS ASSOCIATED WITH A TASK BEFORE YOU START. IF YOU HAVE GIVEN SERIOUS THOUGHT ABOUT THESE HAZARDS, THE CHANCES ARE THAT YOU WILL AVOID THEM.
On March 30, 1930 at approximately 2:15 p.m., an explosion occurred at the Pioneer Mine of the Pioneer Coal Company, located at Kettle Island, Bell County, Kentucky. The mine was working in the Straight Creek coal seam, which is known to have a history of methane liberation and explosions.
The explosion in the No. 2 opening section of the mine claimed the lives of all sixteen (16) miners on the section. The investigation concluded that the point of origin for the explosion was located at the mouth of a worked-out area that was not sealed and poorly ventilated. The section was very dry and rock dust was not used. The ignition source of the methane and air mixture was the result of an open flame from a carbide light.
On March 23, 1959, at approximately 7:30 a.m. (CST), an explosion occurred at the No.1 Mine operated by Phillips and West Coal Company, nine (9) miles southeast of Robbins, Scott County, Tennessee. The mine was operating in the Glen Mary coal seam, also known as the Coal Creek seam. The seam height averaged thirty-two (32) inches and was accessed by three (3) drift openings. Nine (9) miners worked underground, all perished as a result of the explosion or from the associated gases produced from the fire.
The mine was developed by a room-and-pillar method. Coal was extracted from the face by drilling and shooting and transported to the surface by locomotive and drop-bottom mine cars. A five (5) foot disk-type electric drive fan induced ventilation. The main mine fan produced a volume of 24,700 CFM of air and more than 6,000 CFM was provided in the last open cross-cut. Ventilation controls were not used to direct air into worked out rooms and pre-shift, on-shift, and weekly examinations for gas and other hazards were not performed. The mine was classified non-gassy by the Tennessee Division of Mines.
The weather on March 23, 1959 was fair. The temperature at Knoxville, Tennessee, about forty (40) air miles from the mine ranged from a low of 33 to a high of 69 degrees Fahrenheit. The barometric pressure had varied only slightly over the past twenty-four hours. No pre-shift examination had been made the day of the explosion. The mine fan had been shut down since Friday, March 20, 1959. There were no flame-safety lamps available for use at the mine site. Three (3) flame-safety lamps were at the operator's home, but had no fuel, and apparently had not been used for some time. Eleven (11) Federal inspections had been made at this mine, but the greatest amount of methane (CH4) that had been found in any sample was 0.05 percent. It was known however that methane had been found and ignited in nearby mines operating in the Glen Mary coal seam.
The investigation team attempted to recreate a mine environment that would be very similar to the conditions just prior to the explosion. The mine fan was shut down for a period of sixty-three (63) hours, restarted and the inspectors entered the mine to evaluate the condition of the atmosphere. Thirty (30) feet from the face the inspectors encountered methane and air mixtures in the explosive range. This convinced the investigation team that the mine was capable of producing methane in sufficient amounts to contribute to an explosion. The point of origin for the explosion was believed to be an area in the vicinity of the trolley locomotive. The flame source was either produced by an arc from the trolley nip or from the lighting of a cigarette. The mine foreman and the motorman were found near the locomotive along with matches and cigarettes. It is believed that methane from the face was pulled into the area of the locomotive by the exhaust fan. There were brattices missing in the area between the intake entries and the trolley entry allowing the intake to short circulate and pull the methane from the face into the area of the trolley entry.
Attached to this report was a sketch that showed the different areas of the mine in which investigators found smoking articles. It was stated in the report that smoking at this mine was a common practice.
Postscript: According to his grandson, Charles Grace, an MSHA employee, the Kettle Island Disaster, and the miners who died there, lived on in the mind of the Superintendent, H.E. Grace, until his death at nearly 104 years old. He could recall each of the miner's names, and the names of their wives and orphaned children.
-REMEMBER: HISTORY IS NOT JUST FOR INTERESTING READING. HISTORY IS A TEACHING TOOL - LEARN FROM IT! A WISE MAN ONCE SAID, THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE CONDEMNED TO REPEAT IT.
-REMEMBER: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, SMOKE UNDERGROUND!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT's NOT JUST YOUR LIFE, THE LIVES OF YOUR OWN FAMILY, YOUR CO-WORKERS, AND THEIR FAMILIES ARE ALSO AT RISK.
-REMEMBER: ALWAYS - APPLY ROCK DUST LIBERALLY. MAKE FREQUENT EXAMINATIONS FOR METHANE AND OTHER HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS. KEEP ALL VENTILATION CONTROLS INSTALLED AND WELL MAINTAINED.
On April 21, 1980, at approximately 2:30 p.m., a fatal powered haulage accident occurred at the raw coal storage bin of the No. 1 Preparation Plant, operated by Jericol Mining, Incorporated. The mining operation is located at Holmes Mill, Harlan County, Kentucky. The resulting accident claimed the life of a surface beltman.
The victim was maintaining the belt line and raw coal storage bin at D-station, which fed coal from the 11-� mine portal to the preparation plant. The victim last spoke by phone with the chief electrician at 12:00 p.m. At approximately 12:30 p.m., the victim was found inside the coal bin near the opening of the door to the belt conveyor.
The investigation concluded that the victim entered the raw storage bin, intentionally or unintentionally, and was covered by loose coal. Factors that contributed to the cause of the accident were; (1) failure to provide a barrier or other means to prevent persons from entering or falling into the coal storage bin, (2) allowing an employee to work in a hazardous area where he could not be seen or heard by other workers, (3) no safety belt or life line was provided and (4) no audible or visible warning device was installed to warn persons that the conveyor belt was starting.
On April 26, 1982, at approximately 11:00 p.m., a roof fall occurred at the face of the right crosscut off the No. 2 entry of the 001 section of the Rice Harlan Mine, operated by the Alliance of Puckett Coal Company, Incorporated. The mine was located at Pathfork, Harlan County, Kentucky, and was mining the Harlan coal seam, which had an average height of thirty-five (35) inches.
At approximately 2:15 p.m., the day shift crew was cutting coal with an auger-type continuous miner when a large horseback fell on the mining machine. The crew removed the rock and continued mining the crosscut. Upon arriving on the surface, the day shift foreman informed the second shift foreman that the area needed additional roof support. When the second shift foreman arrived on the section, he examined the area and began mining in the same crosscut. A second fall occurred after dinner and the foreman had his crew install additional posts. Around 9:30 p.m. a third fall occurred covering the continuous mining machine. The miners had cleared most of the rock from the machine when, without warning, another fall occurred, fatally injuring two (2) miners and trapping a third. The trapped miner was rescued uninjured. The two (2) victims were not recovered until 11:45 p.m.
The investigation concluded that the cause of the accident was attributed to management permitting miners to work under known hazardous roof that had not been properly supported.
On April 18, 1989, at approximately 10:05 p.m., a fatal machinery accident occurred on the 002 section of the High Splint No. 2 Mine, operated by Arch of Kentucky, Incorporated. The mine was located on Cloverlick Road, Cumberland, Harlan County, Kentucky. The mine was operating in the High Splint coal seam, which had an average height of fifty-eight (58) inches.
The second shift crew entered the mine at approximately 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 1989. The Joy 14CM5 continuous mining machine had broken down on the previous shift. The repair work was under the supervision of the Maintenance Foreman (victim). The right planetary was being repaired and the planetary shaft was stuck. The maintenance crew was working to free the shaft. With the continuous miner raised off the bottom by using crib blocks as supports, the maintenance foreman decided to attempt to shear the splines from the shaft by rotating the shaft backward and forward using the tram motor chain attached to the splined end of the planetary shaft. The maintenance foreman instructed the miner operator to run the chain back and forth. After approximately fifteen (15) or twenty (20) cycles, the tram chain broke, hurling a piece of connecting link approximately twelve (12) feet, striking the maintenance foreman in the right side of his neck. The connecting link severed an artery, causing profuse bleeding. A shuttle car operator slowed the bleeding from the artery by locating a pressure point and applying pressure to the artery.
The victim was transported to the surface and pronounced dead by a doctor that had been summoned to the mine site from a local hospital. The investigation concluded that the accident and resultant fatality were attributed to the fact that the miners were performing maintenance work in an unsafe manner. The cover for the planetary and shaft was not replaced before the tram motor was engaged. This act exposed the miners to the moving parts of the planetary and planetary shaft. With the cover removed, there was no protection from the flying materials.
-EXAMINE YOUR WORK AREA FREQUENTLY. REPORT LOOSE ROOF AND OTHER HAZARDS SUCH MISSING OR DAMAGED GUARDS THAT COVER MOVING MACHINE PARTS.
-NEVER TRAVEL UNDER UNSUPPORTED ROOF.
-NEVER ENTER A COAL BIN OR BLASTING POWDER BIN EXCEPT UNDER CONTROLLED AND SUPERVISED CONDITIONS..
-WHEN WORKING FROM ELEVATED POSITIONS, ALWAYS WEAR A SAFETY BELT ATTACHED TO A TIE-OFF.
-NEVER WORK ALONE IN HAZARDOUS AREAS. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE COMMUNICATIONS WITH OTHER WORKERS IN YOUR AREA.
On May 11, 1982, at approximately 10:30 a.m., a fatal powered haulage accident occurred at the No. 3 belt conveyor drive unit on 001 section, No. 11 Mine, operated by Shamrock Coal Company, Inc. The mining operation was located at Bledsoe, Harlan County, Kentucky. The resulting accident claimed the life of an underground beltman.
The victim was maintaining the section belt line from the 001 section. At 10:30 a.m. the conveyor belt shut down. The chief electrician phoned the section to tell the foreman that the victim's cap lamp and belt were found on the conveyor belt. The foreman along with a shuttle car operator traveled from the section to the conveyor belt drive. The foreman and shuttle car operator found the victim caught in the unguarded shaft of the head pulley on the conveyor belt drive unit. The victim showed no signs of life. He was transported to the surface, where he was later pronounced dead at the Harlan Appalachian Regional Hospital.
The investigation concluded that the resultant fatality was attributed to the mine management allowing the victim to work around and/or near the unguarded head drive roller. Management failed to conduct pre-shift examinations in the victim's work area and the required belt examinations had not been performed. The victim had a total of seven (7) weeks mining experience.
The accident that claimed the greatest number of victims in District Seven history occurred before there was a District Seven. On May 19, 1902, at the Fraterville Mine, located at the community of Fraterville, Anderson County, Tennessee, one hundred, eighty-four (184) men lost their lives in a methane explosion. The mine was located southwest of Lake City in Anderson County.
The mine opened in 1870 and was one of the oldest in the state. Operations had been continuous at the site from the time it was opened until the explosion. The mine employed some 200 men and boys. The mine was considered non-gassy although gas was known to be present in an old abandoned section of the Knoxville Iron Company mine, which the Fraterville mine had recently cut into. The mine was ventilated by a furnace, which had not been fired from Saturday night until Monday morning.
At 7:20 a.m. on Monday, May 19, 1902, only an hour after miners had entered the mine, thick smoke and dust were observed coming from the portals of the mine. A rescue team tried to enter the mine shortly after the explosion, but 200 feet inside they had to retreat because of the presence of afterdamp. At 4:00 p.m. the rescue team again entered the mine. They found some miners dismembered, timbers blown out, brattices destroyed, and mine cars shattered. In some parts of the mine there was no evidence of an explosion, just the bodies of miners that succumbed to suffocation.
Twenty-six (26) miners had barricaded themselves in the 15 right entry. All twenty-six perished before they could be rescued. The miners lived for several hours after erecting the barricade, evidenced by the fact that some had written letters as late as 2:00 p.m. Approximately, ten years ago I was given a copy of one of the letters at an annual underground retraining class. I was in my mid-twenties at that time and had been working underground for only three years. I kept this letter for nearly ten years. It made a great impression on me, as many events that I have experienced in the mining industry have. I did not fully appreciate the meaning of the letter until I became a father. A father that worked along side his young son wrote this letter. The letter was given to the wife/mother of the miners.
Letter written by Jacob L. Vowell shortly before he died of suffocation in the 1902 Fraterville mine disaster.
"Ellen darling, goodbye for us both. Elbert said the Lord has saved him. We are all praying for air to support us, but it is getting so bad without any air. Ellen I want you to live right and come to Heaven. Raise the children the best you can. Oh how I wish to be with you, goodbye. Bury me and Elbert in the same grave by little Eddy. Goodbye Ellen, goodbye Lilly, goodbye Jemmie, goodbye Horace. Is 25 minutes after two. There is a few of us alive yet."
Jake and Elbert
"Oh God for one more breath. Ellen remember me as long as you live. Goodbye darling."
The cause of the disaster at Fraterville was open flame lamps used in a mine that was liberating methane from the overlying strata in the roof. With no means of ventilation over the weekend, methane accumulated to explosive ranges. The mine foreman was condemned for being incompetent and management scorned for failing to install a ventilation fan, as the State Inspector had recommended.
The Coal Creek coal seam that the Fraterville mine was located in has been the source of many explosions and fires since. Locally the seam is called the Glen Mary (Scott County), Coal Creek (Anderson & Campbell Counties), Jellico (Claiborne County), and the Bennett's Fork (Middlesboro, KY.)
-EXAMINE YOUR WORK AREA DAILY. REPORT MISSING OR DAMAGED GUARDS THAT COVER MOVING MACHINE PARTS.
-WEAR SNUG FITTING CLOTHES WHEN WORKING AROUND MOVING MACHINE PARTS.
-REMEMBER, METHANE EXPLOSIONS AND MINE FIRES ARE PREVENTABLE. ADEQUATE VENTILATION, ROCK DUSTING, LOOSE COAL CLEANUP, PROPERLY FUNCTIONING WARNING DEVICES, AND WELL-MAINTAINED FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS ARE A MUST.
On June 2, 1981, at approximately 7:30 a.m., a fatal gas explosion occurred at the No. 1 Tipple, operated by Rock Creek Mining Company, Inc. The mining operation was located near Briceville, Anderson County, Tennessee. The resulting accident claimed the life of a welder.
The victim was cutting a hole in the end of a fuel storage tank using an acetylene torch. The victim was attempting to install a valve in the end of the tank, which the company had planned to use for water storage. The company had been told the tank was used to store diesel fuel, when actually gasoline had been stored in the tank. The tank was constructed of 1/8-inch steel plating and measured 5 � feet in diameter and eighteen (18) feet in length. It had a capacity of 3,500 gallons. The tank was provided with a four- (4) inch ventilation opening.
It was concluded that the flame from the torch ignited the gasoline fumes inside the storage tank. The resulting explosion blew the four- (4) inch welded vent cap from the tank, striking the victim and causing instantaneous fatal injuries.
-NEVER USE AN OPEN FLAME IN THE PRESENCE OF A VOLATILE LIQUID OR GAS. REMEMBER THAT FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS EVAPORATE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE CREATING VOLATILE GASES, WHICH WILL IGNITE MORE READILY THAN THE FUEL SOURCE.
-AREAS WHERE FUEL OR OTHER FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS ARE STORED SHOULD BE WELL VENTILATED AT ALL TIMES!
On June 12, 1985, at approximately 12:05 p.m., a roof fall occurred in the face of the No. 1 entry, 001-0 section of the No. 4 Mine operated by Flat Rock Coal Company, Inc. The roof fall resulted in the death of two miners. The mine was located near the community of Wallins, Harlan County, Kentucky.
The mine was developed in the Harlan coal seam, which had an average thickness of thirty-six (36) to forty-two (42) inches. A continuous auger-type mining machine (Wilcox) was used to extract the coal from the face. The coal was transported to the surface via mobile bridge conveyors and belt haulage. The mine employed a three entry system for ventilation and seam development. The immediate roof consisted of sandstone and/ or firm shale. The roof in the accident area was comprised of laminated shale that exceeded five (5) feet in thickness. Directly above the coal seam in this area was seven (7) inches of shale with slickensided fractures and a thin layer of mudshale.
The section crew was mining in the left crosscut between the number two- (2) and number one (1) headings. The number one (1) heading was mined short of the distance needed to cut through from the two left cross cut, which facilitated the need to �kick back� into the number one (1) heading. The section foreman had determined that the left side run would have to be dropped back eight (8) feet to connect with the number one (1) heading. The miner operator repositioned the machine to make the cut while the victims shoveled loose coal or set timbers. At approximately 12:05 p.m., a portion of mine roof fell and struck the two- (2) victims. The rock measured sixteen (16) feet long, six (6) feet wide and seven (7) inches to a featheredge in thickness with three (3) inches of cap coal attached to the rock. The victims were recovered at approximately 12:30 p.m. and transported to the surface where they were both pronounced dead.
The investigation team concluded that accident occurred because of management's failure to adequately support the mine roof. Contributing factors to the accident were the inability to make proper examinations and tests to determine the actual roof conditions due to the cap coal left as part of the mine roof. Another contributing factor was the practice of not advancing the number one (1) heading to the outby rib line of the projected cross cut, which necessitated cutting back on the number one (1) heading.
-MAKE FREQUENT AND THOROUGH EXAMINATIONS FOR CHANGING ROOF CONDITIONS. KNOW AND FOLLOW YOUR APPROVED ROOF CONTROL AND PILLAR PLANS. MINING PLANS MUST BE DESIGNED SO THEY DO NOT CREATE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS.
At approximately 2:00 p.m., July 31, 1990, an explosion occurred in the last open crosscut between the Number One (1) and Two (2) Right entries of the Granny Rose Coal Company's No. 3 Mine. The mine was located in Knox County, Kentucky and began production on March 12, 1990. Mining was performed in the Blue Gem coal seam using the shot from solid method of mining. The seam had an average thickness of twenty-two (22) inches and produced approximately one hundred (100) tons of coal per day. The mine employed eleven (11) employees, two- (2) surface and nine- (9) underground. At the time of the accident, the working faces were located five to six hundred feet from the portals.
On July 31, 1990, at about 7:00 a.m., the section foreman completed the pre-shift examination of the 001 section. Three (3) scoop operators entered the mine after the completion of the examination to load coal from the first left crosscut. Two (2) roof bolter operators began installing bolts in the crosscut after the coal was loaded out. Shortly thereafter, the shot firer and two (2) face drill operators began drilling and loading the bolted working place. The crew exited the mine at approximately 11:30 a.m. to eat lunch and returned underground around 12:30 p.m. The section foreman delivered two (2) cases of explosives to the blasting crew located in the face area of the No. 1 Right entry.
At approximately 2:00 p.m., an explosion was heard on the surface by the mine operator and one of the scoop operators, that was in the process of dumping his loaded scoop. The operator was alerted that something was wrong because of the loudness of the blast. He immediately sent the scoop operator underground to check on the other miners. The section foreman arrived at the surface shortly after the scoop operator had re-entered the mine. The section foreman told the mine operator that the two- (2) roof bolter operators were together and one was unconscious due to smoke inhalation. The foreman dumped the coal from his scoop and proceeded back into the mine to help the two roof bolter operators. The foreman met the scoop operator underground before reaching the working section. He had retrieved the bolting machine operators and was taking them to the surface. The four- (4) men returned to the surface and began administering oxygen to the smoke inhalation victim.
The three (3) uninjured men, followed by the mine operator re-entered the mine to search for the three (3) men on the blasting crew. The mine operator instructed one of the men to take the section foreman out of the mine, as he appeared to be in shock. After searching the face area, only the partial remains of one of the men was located in the deck of the coal driller's scoop. The other two (2) miners were unaccounted for.
The MSHA field office in Barbourville, Kentucky was notified of the accident at 2:52 p.m. on July 31, 1990. At 3:35 p.m., inspectors from MSHA and the KY. Department of Mines and Minerals entered the mine. The recovery team encountered smoke and poor roof conditions one (1) crosscut from the accident site. After installing telephone communications to the underground portion of the mine and setting timbers to support the poor roof, the team proceeded with their search for the three- (3) victims. At 5:26 p.m. the remains of the victim in the battery-powered scoop were brought to the surface. The recovery of the other two- (2) victims was hampered by the dispersal of blasting caps in the area of the accident. The recovery process continued until 6:10 a.m. on August 1, 1990, when all remains of the victims were accounted for. The recovery team returned to the surface at 5:10 p.m.
The account of the accident as told by the two- (2) survivors, section foreman, and the mine owner was very similar. There was no actual eyewitness to the accident. One roof bolter operator was approximately one hundred and thirty (130) feet from the point of detonation. He remembered seeing a °Fireball� coming toward him before he was blown backward losing his hard hat and cap light. He had observed the blasting crew working prior to the explosion, but he stated that nothing seemed unusual.
The investigation team came to the following conclusion. The most extensive damage had occurred in the last open crosscut between the Nos. 1 and 2 Right entries. The bucket of the scoop was separated from the tractor, which led investigators to believe the greatest force was exerted in the area of the scoop. Management failed to maintain sightlines or other methods of directional control in the Nos. 1 Right entry three-way face on the 001 section. This failure to maintain proper centerlines resulted in the reduction of pillar thickness, which separated the victims from the right hand crosscut of the three-way face they were blasting. The explosive forces penetrated the narrowed pillar allowing the unused explosives located in the area of the victims to detonate.
-PARTICULARLY WHEN BLASTING, ALWAYS BE ASSURED OF YOUR LOCATION AND THAT OF YOUR CO-WORKERS. ACCURATE DIRECTIONAL CONTROL (SPADS, SIGHT RODS, CENTERLINES) IS VERY IMPORTANT WHEN ADVANCING ENTRIES IN A COAL MINE. INACCURATE ENGINEERING OR FAILURE TO USE DIRECTIONAL CONTROLS THAT ARE PROVIDED CAN ALSO RESULT IN MINING INTO OLD WORKS FILLED WITH WATER OR BLACKDAMP.
-EXAMINE YOUR WORK AREA DAILY. REPORT HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS TO YOUR SUPERVISOR.
-SUPERVISORS SHOULD REVIEW ALL MINING PLANS PERIODICALLY AND DISCUSS THE PLANS WITH THEIR WORKERS.
-MINING IS A DYNAMIC ENVIRONMENT, BE AWARE OF TRAFFIC PATTERNS AND CHANGES THAT OCCUR IN YOUR WORK AREAS.
At approximately 4:00 p.m., August 15, 1985, a multiple fatal explosives accident (carbon monoxide poisoning) occurred in the face area of the R & R Coal Company, No. 3 mine. The mine was located on Bunch Mountain, approximately six miles from Rockholds, Whitley County, Kentucky. Coal was produced from the Jellico coal seam, which had a mining height of 23 to 30 inches. The coal was extracted using the shooting from the solid method of underground mining.
According to accounts given by the miners that were involved in the rescue and the mine operator, the following events occurred on the afternoon of August 15, 1985. The assistant mine foreman, two (2) scoop operators, and one (1) additional face worker re-entered the mine after the coal faces had been shot. They proceeded to load their scoops and haul the coal to the surface. The assistant mine foreman had hauled two to four loads of coal to the surface and returned underground for another load. One miner working on the surface noticed that the four (4) underground workers had not returned to the surface for some time. The outside miner summoned help from a nearby mine that also belonged to the operator of the R and R Coal Company, No. 3 Mine. The mine operator and two (2) other miners traveled to the No. 3 mine in a pickup truck, while another miner trammed a scoop back to the mine.
Three (3) of the rescuers entered the mine and found one miner disabled. They then located the other three (3) miners, placing all four (4) in two scoops and transporting them to the surface. CPR was administered to three (3) of the miners in route to the Baptist Regional Hospital in Corbin, Kentucky. One miner survived the ordeal, while the other three (3) were pronounced dead at the hospital.
Sworn statements indicated that the mine had been in operation for four or five months when the fatalities occurred. The mine was operating without approved ventilation or roof control plans. Miners were instructed by management to timber off active sections of the mine and not to shoot coal while inspectors were at the mine.
The investigation team concluded that the accident occurred due to management's failure to provide adequate ventilation to carry away and render harmless the noxious gases and explosives fumes. The noxious gases and fumes were a result of simultaneously blasting the coal from the solid faces of at least one three-way intersection. Management's failure to provide the miners with self-rescue devices and the lack of training and experience of the assistant mine foreman and the miners contributed to the severity of the accident.
The following fatality occurred on August 8, 1970, at which time the Barbourville District 7 Office was a subdistrict office of District C, located in Norton, Virginia. At approximately 1:40 p.m., Saturday, August 8, 1970, a roof-fall accident occurred at the Grays Knob Coal Company, Mill Creek No. 1 Mine, located at Grays Knob in Harlan County, Kentucky. The accident resulted in the death of a forty-three (43) year old crew leader. The victim had a total of twenty-five (25) years of mining experience.
The Mill Creek No. 1 Mine was producing coal from the No. 10 coal seam, which averaged thirty-eight (38) inches in thickness. Coal was extracted via three (3) drift entries using the room and entry system of mining. Rooms were driven from the main entries on both sides and chain pillars were partially extracted after the rooms were completely developed. The immediate roof in the accident area was draw rock, approximately eight (8) inches in thickness; the main roof was firm shale.
Coal was hauled from the working faces by two (2) Joy 18SC shuttle cars to a dumping point and discharged onto a chain conveyor and belt conveyors, which transported the coal to the surface. The accident occurred at an intersection near the dumping point on the two (2) left section. The roof in the two (2) left section was loose and inadequately supported from number 9 room left and inby. The minimum approved support for normal roof conditions in entries and rooms, required permanent posts be set on four (4) foot centers to within five (5) feet of the face. Roadways would not exceed fourteen (14) feet in width, except on curves, where the maximum was sixteen (16) feet in width. The width of rooms and entries was not to exceed twenty (20) feet.
The investigation determined that the two (2) left entries had been developed with three (3) entries driven twenty (20) to twenty-six (26) feet wide. Chain pillars were being extracted on the section. The operator failed to submit a pillaring plan for this mine. There were no eyewitnesses to the fatal accident. The dimensions of the rock in the accident area measured forty-six (46) feet long, twenty-two (22) feet wide, and zero (0) to eight (8) inches thick. The victim was removed from beneath the rock with the aid of lifting jacks and transported to the surface. He was survived by a wife and eight (8) children.
The cause of the accident was attributed to management's failure to adequately support the roof and follow the company's roof control plan.
Both your family and your co-workers are relying on you to work safely!
-FOLLOW YOUR VENTILATION PLAN WHEN INSTALLING AND MAINTAINING LINE BRATTICES AT THE WORKING FACE. LINE CURTAINS MUST BE MAINTAINED TO WITHIN TEN (10) FEET OF THE FACE, UNLESS A GREATER DISTANCE IS APPROVED IN THE VENTILATION PLAN.
-MAKE SURE THAT YOUR TRAINING IS CURRENT AND THAT YOUR SCSR IS FREQUENTLY TESTED AND FUNCTIONAL. KNOW HOW TO DON AND USE YOUR SCSR PROPERLY.
-MINE SUPERVISORS SHOULD REVIEW ALL MINING PLANS PERIODICALLY AND DISCUSS ANY CHANGES TO THE PLANS WITH THEIR WORKERS.
-SUPERVISORS SHOULD REVIEW PILLARING PLANS WITH EMPLOYEES PRIOR TO THE START OF RETREAT MINING. REMEMBER, THE LAG TIME BETWEEN ADVANCING A SECTION AND THE START OF PILLAR WORK MAY CAUSE MINERS TO FORGET WHAT THEIR ASSIGNED DUTIES WILL BE DURING THE RETREAT MINING PROCESS.
On Wednesday, September 12, 1984, at approximately 9:20 a.m., a massive roof fall occurred in the second set of entries off the first right of the Berger No. 2 Mine, operated by Bon Trucking Company, Inc., located at Evarts, in Harlan County, Kentucky. The fall was located in the second crosscut.
Six (6) miners were caught by the fall, four (4) were killed instantly. One miner was partially covered by the rock fall and sustained serious injuries. Another miner was also partially covered, but crawled to relative safety without sustaining serious injuries.
The accident occurred with little or no warning while repairs to a bridge conveyor, used with an auger-type continuous mining machine, were being performed. A large portion of the roof, approximately one-hundred (100) feet long, thirty (30) feet or more wide, and ten (10) feet to zero (0) inches in thickness, fell and covered one bridge conveyor and part of the mining machine.
The work of recovering the four (4) bodies was performed by miners from the Berger No. 2 Mine, miners from nearby mines, and personnel from the Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Recovery of the last body was completed at 1:45 a.m., Saturday, September 15, 1984.
The Berger No. 2 Mine was located approximately four (4) miles east of Evarts in Possum Hollow near the community of Shields. Coal was mined from the Kellioka coal seam, which averaged thirty (30) inches in thickness. The Darby coal seam was located fifty (50) feet above and the Harlan seam was approximately seventy-five (75) feet below the active workings of the Berger No. 2 Mine. The Darby and Harlan seams had been extensively mined in this area. However, there was no indication that the old works influenced the roof or floor of the Berger mine.
Miners stated that the required number of posts were not installed inby the area of the fall. It was stated that management often instructed miners to retrieve timbers from areas where pillar mining was completed. These timbers were then used in other areas of the mine. Several miners stated that the pillars inby the roof fall area had been mined. Management employees denied that any pillaring had been done in this area.
The investigation team listed several factors that contributed to the multiple fatality roof fall that occurred at the Berger No. 2 Mine. The single most important factor was management's failure to comply with the approved roof control plan. The width of entries often exceeded the approved width stated in the roof control plan. No additional support had been provided in the area of the fall, where poor roof conditions were known to exist. Pillars were being mined, often using nearly full extraction methods. Management had not addressed the use of pillar mining in the approved roof control plan. Inaccurate mapping of pillars and entries contributed to the inability of the operator to effectively control the poor roof conditions. Small pillars, wide entries and incorrect location of the workings added to the severity of the poor roof conditions.
-CENTERLINES AND THE USE OF SURVEY SPADS IS VERY IMPORTANT IN THE MINING CYCLE. SOME PEOPLE DO NOT REALIZE THAT IF YOU ARE OFF CENTER AS LITTLE AS AN INCH, THAT ERROR WILL MULTIPLY AS YOU ADVANCE THE HEADINGS. WHAT MAY HAVE BEEN AN INCH, MAY BE SEVERAL FEET TEN BREAKS INBY.
-MINE SUPERVISORS SHOULD REVIEW ALL MINING PLANS PERIODICALLY AND DISCUSS ANY CHANGES TO THE PLANS WITH THEIR WORKERS.
-SUPERVISORS SHOULD REVIEW PILLARING PLANS WITH EMPLOYEES PRIOR TO THE START OF RETREAT MINING. MINERS MAY FORGET THE CUT SEQUENCE OR THE PROPER SEQUENCE AND NUMBER OF POSTS TO BE SET PRIOR TO STARTING A LIFT.
On Monday, October 12, 1981, at approximately 9:15 a.m., a fatal explosives accident occurred in the second crosscut outby the face of the No. 2 entry of the No. 4 Mine, operated by Big Hill Coal Company. The mine was located at Bryants Store, in Knox County, Kentucky. The accident resulted in the death of one utility man and the injury of another utility man.
At approximately 8:00 a.m., the drill operator and a helper entered the No. 1 entry to drill and blast the coal face. After charging the drillholes with explosives, the two miners returned to the last open crosscut between the No. 1 and No. 2 entries. The drill operator informed two (2) miners that were located one crosscut inby his location that he was ready to shoot the coal face. The two (2) miners located inby the drill operator acknowledged that they were in the clear and ready for the shot to be detonated.
After the shot was detonated, the drill operator realized that the blast had shot through into the adjoining crosscut. The drill operator immediately called out to the other miners. Only one answered, he responded that he was injured. The remaining crewmembers were summoned and they went to the aid of the victims. One of the miners had sustained instantaneous, fatal crushing injuries. The other miner sustained a fractured left leg and cuts and abrasions to his face and body.
The investigation revealed that the mine had been developed six hundred (600) feet from the surface without any sight lines being established. The entries of the mine were not being advanced in an orderly sequence. The crosscut, in which the accident occurred, had been developed in front of the advancing heading. Blasting was not conducted in a permissible manner, in that, workmen were not removed from an adjoining working place prior to blasting and the boreholes were not stemmed.
The investigation team concluded that management failed to ascertain that workers had been removed from an adjoining working place prior to blasting. Other factors included failure to require that mining be conducted according to projections and failure to keep up-to-date notations on the mine map.
On Monday, October 12, 1992, at approximately 7:05 a.m., a fatal collision occurred at the Grays Ridge Job, operated by Nally and Hamilton Enterprises. The surface mining operation was located on the Left Fork of Ages Creek at Brookside in Harlan County, Kentucky. The accident involved a Mack DM 800 series tandem truck and a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Brougham.
The victims of the accident were employed by Golden Creek Enterprises, which operated a coal auger operation on the surface mine of Nally and Hamilton Enterprises. The victims were traveling to their work site, when the Mack tandem truck, which was owned by Charles Saylor, struck them. Mr. Saylor operated a contract trucking business that hauled coal for Nally and Hamilton Enterprises.
The Mack coal truck left the coal pit fully loaded at approximately 6:30 a.m. enroute to the coal preparation plant, located some 4.6 miles from the surface mine area. The driver reported the trip was normal except for a slight 'sponginess' of the brakes for the first four (4) miles of the trip. As the driver entered what was known as the culvert-head section of the haul road, he radioed the other drivers that a loaded truck was coming into the curve. Upon entering the curve, the driver applied the air brakes on the truck and felt no response. He depressed the foot pedal twice again and still felt no response. The driver could hear a "hissing" sound as if there was an air leak. He then radioed ahead that he had no brakes.
Shortly before 7:00 a.m., the automobile in which the victims were riding arrived on the mine property. The victims proceeded to their work area via the haul road and eventually overtook two (2) coal haulage trucks on their way to be loaded. As the victims passed one of the empty coal trucks, the driver of the truck flashed his lights to warn them of the loaded truck coming down the road. The automobile pulled to the right side of the road in the curve approximately twenty (20) feet in front of the empty coal trucks.
The driver of the loaded coal truck was now approaching the curve, the truck was gaining speed and the brakes would not slow down the truck. The driver had decided to steer the truck into a slate dump located in the wide area of the curve, the approximate location where the automobile was parked. The truck driver attempted to apply the trailer brake, but this did not slow down the truck. Next, he attempted to use the engine retarder brake, but this could not stop the truck, it only slowed it slightly. As a last attempt, the driver tried to engage the emergency/parking brake. In order to engage this braking system, the driver had to reach across the two (2) gearshift levers. In the process of applying this brake, he struck one of the gear levers, which disengaged the transmission and caused the engine to stall. With the engine stalled, the driver had no control over the hydraulic power-assisted steering unit and he could not steer the truck.
At approximately, 7:05 a.m., the coal haulage truck impacted the automobile on the left side of the vehicle. The two-(2) vehicles traveled approximately forty (40) feet from the point of impact up an elevated earthen berm to where the truck rolled onto its right side. The Harlan County Coroner pronounced the victims dead at the scene of the accident. The driver of the truck was uninjured.
The accident investigation determined that all parts of the braking system were in good working order, with the exception of the treadle valve on the compressed air tank of the braking system. The investigators concluded that a mechanical failure of the treadle valve allowed air to leak from the air reservoir, thereby causing the braking system to fail.
-WHEN DETONATING EXPLOSIVES, MANAGEMENT SHOULD TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO ACCOUNT FOR EACH PERSON AND INSURE THEY ARE IN A SAFE LOCATION PRIOR TO FIRING THE SHOT.
-TRAINING IS NOT AN ANNUAL EVENT; IT SHOULD BE A PART OF YOUR EVERYDAY ROUTINE. WELL-TRAINED PEOPLE ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE INJURED AND EVERYONE BENEFITS WHEN ACCIDENTS ARE REDUCED.
-OPERATORS SHOULD TAKE TIME TO EXAMINE THEIR EQUIPMENT PRIOR TO STARTING WORK. KNOW YOUR EQUIPMENT AND LEARN HOW THE EQUIPMENT WORKS. ASK YOUR SUPERVISOR OR A MECHANIC IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW SOMETHING WORKS ON THE EQUIPMENT YOU ARE OPERATING. REMEMBER, QUESTIONS ARE NOT DUMB, NOT ASKING THEM IS.
-WITH THE FALL AND WINTER SEASONS APPROACHING, SUPERVISORS AND WORKERS SHOULD HAVE A HEIGHTENED AWARENESS OF THEIR SURROUNDINGS.
-MINERS WORKING ON THE SURFACE AREAS OF MINES SHOULD BE ESPECIALLY CONCERNED WITH THE FREEZING AND THAWING AFFECTS OF WATER. ROADWAYS WILL BE MORE HAZARDOUS DUE TO POOR TRACTION. STRAIRS, CATWALKS, AND LADDERS WILL BECOME SLIPPERY FROM THE FREEZING TEMPERATURES. MOST IMPORTANT, THE FREEZING AND THAWING OF WATER IN CRACKS, JOINTS AND HILLSEAMS ALONG HIGHWALLS INCREASES THE CHANCE THAT DEBRIS WILL FALL AND INJURE SOMEONE.
-MINERS WORKING IN UNDERGROUND AREAS OF MINES SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH THE AFFECT OF FALLING TEMPERATURES AND BAROMETRIC PRESSURE DURING THIS TIME OF YEAR. A MAJORITY OF THE MOST DEADLY MINE EXPLOSIONS HAS OCCURRED DURING THE WINTER SEASON. PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO COAL DUST ACCUMULATIONS AND AREAS WHERE METHANE MAY MIAGRATE INTO THE WORKING AREAS. SEALED AREAS AND GOB AREAS ARE PRONE TO INCREASED METHANE LIBERATION INTO ACTIVE AREAS WHEN THE BAROMETRIC PRESSURE DROPS. INCREASED VENTILATION AND LIBERAL ROCKDUSTING IN THESE AREAS WILL HELP LESSEN THE LIKELYHOOD OF AN IGNITION. THE DRYING OF THE MINE ROOF PROMOTES THE WEATHERING OF THE ROCK AND THEREBY THE FAILURE OF THE ROOF. LITTLE CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT THE DRYING AFFECT, BUT EXTRA PRECAUTIONS CAN BE TAKEN AND AN AWARENESS TO THE PROBLEM WILL KEEP MINERS ALERT TO THE CHANGING CONDITIONS.
-EVERYONE OCCASIONALLY LOSES THEIR TRAIN OF THOUGHT AROUND THIS TIME OF YEAR. THE HOLIDAYS TEND TO DISTRACT US FROM OUR EVERYDAY WORK ROUTINES. NO ONE NEEDS TO REMIND US THAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE NOT THE SAME WITHOUT OUR FAMILIES. SO PLEASE BE CAREFUL, YOUR FAMILY WANTS YOU "HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS".
On Wednesday, November 26, 1986, at approximately 10:45 a.m., a fall of a highwall occurred on the surface of the Mingo No. 4 Mine, operated by Mingo Coal Company, Inc. The accident resulted in the death of a general inside laborer. The mine was located near the Siler community in Whitley County, Kentucky. Coal was produced from the Blue Gem coal seam, which had an average thickness of twenty-four (24) inches.
A crew of eleven (11) men (six underground and five surface) began their production shift at 8:00 a.m. on November 26, 1986. The victim was instructed by the mine foreman to place a blower fan in the No. 2 entry. An eyewitness to the accident stated that the victim had set the fan just inside the portal and turned to crawl outside when the rocks started falling. The eyewitness called out to the victim as he was passing under the canopy. The rocks crashed through the canopy and fatally injured the general inside laborer. It was estimated that the rock weighed between two (2) and four (4) tons.
The accident investigation revealed that the canopy over the No. 2 entry, where men were required to work and travel, was not constructed of substantial material to protect the miners from falling objects. There was loose and overhanging rock above each of the five portals. Statements from the miners indicated that coal production started prior to the approval of the required plans.
The accident and resulting fatality occurred due to management's failure to properly scale the highwall. A contributing factor to the accident was the canopy not being substantially constructed to protect the workers from materials falling from the highwall.
At approximately 2:08 p.m. on November 20, 1996, a coal burst occurred on the 005 working section located in the Second Left panel off Nine Right off the No. 3 East Main entries of Harlan Cumberland Coal Company's, C-2 Mine. Nine miners were working on the section at the time of the burst. The coal burst resulted in the deaths of two of the miners located on the section. Four other miners sustained varying degrees of injury.
The Harlan Cumberland Coal Company's, C-2 Mine is located near the community of Dione, Harlan County, Kentucky. The mine was developed from the surface on or about October 1, 1980. The main entries were developed from three drift openings in the Creech Coal Seam. The coal seam ranges in thickness from (42) forty-two to (96) ninety-six inches.
The mine was a (2) two unit mine with one advancing section and one retreating section. The advancing 004 section utilized a (5) five entry system. The retreating 005 section utilized a five entry system and developed rooms to the right off the panel entries. The room pillars were extracted first, followed by the adjacent entry pillars. The 005 working section utilized a Joy 14CM Continuous Miner and (2) two Joy 10SC Shuttle Cars for coal production.
At the time of the burst, (8) eight miners and a foreman were working underground on the retreating 005 section. On the morning of November 20, 1996, at approximately 6:30 a.m., production commenced by advancing the left crosscut in the No. 2 room. Successive cuts were then advanced without incident in all three rooms, until the room entries and crosscuts were connected to the adjacent gob.
After completing these connections, the continuous mining machine was moved to the No. 1 room pillar to take the initial cut, beginning the pillar extraction phase of the mining cycle. The initial cut was advanced into the No. 1 pillar approximately (15) fifteen feet deep, when at approximately 2:08 p.m., the coal burst occurred claiming the lives of two of the miners and injuring four others.
The force of the coal burst was felt by other employees on the 005 section and was detected by seismic stations at the University of Kentucky. The average magnitude as recorded on the Richter Scale was 2.7.
Roof control problems were not uncommon at the C-2 Mine. The mine had experienced similar 'bumps' and 'squeeze' events in the past, but no one had been injured. The mine roof consisted of an immediate roof comprised of mainly sandy shale, overlain by several thick sandstone members, which made up the main roof. The mine bottom consisted of approximately (1) one foot of shale with a (10) ten feet thick sandstone layer immediately below the shale. The mine had experienced roof and rib control problems as the depth of overburden increased above the mining area. There was old mine works above and below the C-2 Mine, but not in the immediate area of the pillar burst.
The investigation team concluded that the increasing size of the frontal gob, the existence of a side gob, and the increasing depth of the overburden (in excess of 1,400 feet), resulted in high stresses and pressures on the coal pillars as they were extracted. The side gob had narrowed to approximately 130 feet wide adjacent to the accident site. The narrowing of the side gob may have restricted caving, contributing to the excessive loading of the pillar line.
The presence of the thick sandstone layers above and below the Creech coal seam enhanced the ability of the coal pillars to withstand high stresses and store energy. As room pillar No. 1 was mined, much of its load was released and transferred to the already highly stressed adjacent pillars. This sudden pressure increase on the adjacent pillars was sufficient to cause failure of the coal near or into the core of these pillars and resulted in the burst.
- At this time of year, miners should be particularly alert to changing weather conditions which may result in freezing and thawing - loosening highwall material and resulting in falling rock and soil.
- Highwalls should be examined frequently for deterioration and hazardous conditions due to the effects of freezing and thawing.
- Canopies should be regularly examined for any reductions in structural integrity, as a result of damage by fallen material and/or being struck by equipment.
- Miners should also be alert to changing roof conditions underground at this time of year. Make frequent examinations of the mine roof and your working place(s).
- When mining adjacent to, above, or below other mine workings, be particularly vigilant toward any abnormal conditions in the mine floor, roof, or ribs which indicate high stresses.
- Report any hazardous or questionable conditions to your foreman or supervisor.
On December 26, 1945, an explosion occurred in the Belva No. 1 Mine of the Kentucky Straight Creek Coal Company at Fourmile in Bell County, Kentucky. Thirty-one men were in the mine at the time of the explosion. Of this number, eighteen were killed almost instantly by the explosion or from suffocation. Four (4) miners died about seven (7) hours later from lack of oxygen and one (1) other miner died some fifty (50) hours later, while awaiting rescue. Two (2) miners were rescued and died later. There were only six (6) miners that survived the explosion.
The disaster was caused by the ignition of an accumulation of methane, which in turn ignited coal dust resulting in the propagation of the flame throughout the greater portion of the mine. This mine was classified as non-gassy.
On December 30, 1970, a coal dust explosion occurred in the interconnected Number 15 and 16 Mines of the Finley Coal Company, located on Hurricane Creek in Leslie County, Kentucky. Thirty-eight of the thirty-nine men who were underground at the time were killed. The explosion occurred when coal dust was thrown into suspension and ignited during the blasting of roof rock for a loading point (boom hole).
Excessive accumulation of coal dust and inadequate application of rock dust permitted propagation of the explosion throughout the mine. The lone survivor of this accident was located near the portal in the belt entry of the No. 15 Mine.
On December 7, 1981, a coal dust explosion occurred in the South Main Working Section at the No. 11 Mine of Adkins Coal Company, located at Kite in Knott County, Kentucky. The accident resulted in the death of all eight (8) miners who were underground at the time of the explosion.
The accident occurred as a result of the ignition of coal dust, which was put into suspension from the blast of a blown-out shot as coal was blasted from the solid coal face. Sufficient quantities of rock dust were not applied to render the coal dust inert.
On December 8, 1981 at approximately 12 noon (CST), an explosion occurred in the 003 section of the No. 21 mine operated by Grundy Mining Company, Incorporated. The mine was located 15 miles northwest of Whitwell in Marion County, Tennessee. A total of fifty-six (56) men were underground at the time of the explosion, thirteen (13) were killed or died as a result of the explosion. The 003 section was mining toward an old gob area and was test drilling in advance of the face. On December 7, 1981, the boreholes intersected the five right gob area and encountered 5.2% methane at the boreholes. By December 8, 1981, the section had advanced the faces and enlarged one of the boreholes to a four (4) foot by seven (7) foot opening.
According the investigation findings, the intake air to the section face had been short-circuited at a crosscut between nos. 2 and 3 entries (3 crosscuts outby the face). Methane had migrated into the section working face from the penetrated gob area via the enlarged opening and could not be diluted because adequate ventilation controls were missing. The ignition was found to be caused by a miner striking a cigarette lighter. Evidence showed that smoking articles were present on the section and on four of the bodies of the deceased miners.
-ADDITIONAL MEASURES SHOULD BE TAKEN TO INSURE THE LIBERAL APPLICATION OF ROCK DUST, PROPER CLEAN UP OF LOOSE COAL AND FLOAT DUST AND THE MAINTENANCE OF VENTILATION CONTROLS FOR THE PROPER AIR QUANTITY/QUALITY DURING THE DRY WINTER SEASON.
-COMPANY SAFETY PERSONNEL AND MINE INSPECTORS SHOULD BE AWARE OF THE NEED TO TRAIN MINERS TO RECOGINIZE THE DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH MINING IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO OLD WORKS. INUNDATION OF WATER SHOULD NOT BE OUR ONLY CONCERN. BLACKDAMP (CO) AND METHANE (CH4) CAN MIAGRATE INTO WORKING SECTIONS NOT ONLY FROM ADJACENT WORKS, BUT FROM OLD WORKS ABOVE AND BELOW AN ACTIVE MINE.
-ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR APPROVED VENTILATION AND ROOF CONTROL PLANS.