DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT
(SURFACE AREA-UNDERGROUND COAL MINE)
Buchanan Mine #1 (ID No. 44-04856)
Consolidation Coal Company
Mavisdale, Buchanan County, Virginia
November 22, 1998
Benjamin S. Harding
Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
P.O. Box 560, Wise County Plaza, Norton, VA 24273
Ray McKinney, District Manager
Consolidation Coal Company's Buchanan Mine #1 is located two miles south of Route 460 on State Route 632 at Mavisdale, Buchanan County, Virginia. The mine is opened into the Pocahontas No. 3 Seam by eight shafts. Employment is provided for 345 persons. A total of 306 underground and 39 surface employees work on three production shifts per day, seven days per week. The surface area of the mine includes a large preparation plant which produces 10,000 tons of clean coal per day. Coal is cleaned, dried, stockpiled, and loaded into unit trains for transport or into trucks which deliver coal to the mine's impoundment area for storage when stockpiles are at or near capacity. The preparation plant area includes raw and clean coal silos, stockpile, and loadout facilities.
The principal management personnel in charge of the mine at the time of the accident were:
The last regular Safety and Health Inspection(AAA) was completed on September 30, 1998; however, due to the size of the mine, a safety regular and health inspection is continuously ongoing.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT
On Saturday, November 21, 1998, at 11:30 P.M., the midnight shift crew comprised of twelve miners at the preparation plant began their shift under the supervision of Dwight Eades, Plant Foreman. Eades' shift began at 7:30 P.M. The plant was idle and repairs begun on the previous shift were continuing. The draw-off belt conveyor under the clean coal stockpile was operating to load coal into trucks for transportation to the impoundment area for storage. None of the draw-off belt conveyor feeders were operating as the stockpile was gravity feeding onto the belt conveyor. At approximately 1:00 A.M., Eades traveled by pickup truck to the impoundment area to check a pump and later returned to the plant.
Repairs were completed in the plant and startup procedures began at 1:30 A.M. By 2:00 A.M. the plant was operational. At 2:30 A.M. Jessie Vance Jenkins, Jr., Mobile Equipment Operator, returned to the plant office from the skip shaft area where he had been moving coal with a dozer since the start of the shift. At 3:00 A.M. Eades instructed Jenkins to assist with repairs on a floor brace in the plant. At 4:30 A.M. Eades instructed Jenkins to take a dozer to the clean coal stockpile and move coal away from the stacker.
Jenkins reported by radio to Arthur W. Booth, Jr., Control Room Operator, that he was entering the stockpile area at 4:55 A.M. Booth logged the contact. Jenkins called Scott L. Graves, Dryer Operator, and told him that the No. 2 Feeder was feeding coal. At 5:25 A.M. Booth called Jenkins on the radio and received no response. Booth contacted Graves and asked him to go to the head house and see if he could locate Jenkins. Booth also notified Eades of the situation. Eades immediately obtained a vehicle and drove around the road beside the stockpile. Neither Eades nor Graves saw Jenkins or the dozer. The plant was then shut down completely including the draw-off belt conveyor. Bobby Berry, Plant Electrician, took another dozer onto the stockpile to look for Jenkins. He was unable to locate Jenkins and realized that the dozer must be in a void over a feeder. He located dozer tracks that ended at the edge of a void over the No. 1 Feeder. Within this approximate 15 minute time frame, personnel from both the plant and mine had begun to gather. Craig Chadwell, Assistant Mine Foreman, traveled up the overhead stacker belt line catwalk and reported seeing metal in the No. 1 Feeder. Berry reported seeing two to three feet of the dozer blade at the same location.
Eades contacted Tom Burton, Plant Superintendent, at home and asked him to begin emergency procedure contacts. Burton did this by cellular phone as he traveled to the mine site. Eades brought in every available piece of earth moving equipment and immediately began moving coal away from the No. 1 Feeder area. Members of Consolidation Coal Company's mine rescue team arrived and assisted in the recovery. Personnel from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy arrived at various times and assisted in and monitored the recovery operation.
Jenkins was extricated from the dozer at 1:12 P.M. and transported by ambulance to Buchanan General Hospital in Grundy, Virginia where he was pronounced dead by Dr. Joseph Segen, Buchanan County Medical Examiner.
PHYSICAL FACTORS INVOLVED
The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the
occurrence of the accident:
The accident occurred when the dozer operated by Jenkins traveled into a hazardous area near the No. 1 Feeder containing a bridged over void in the stockpile. The bridged material collapsed causing the dozer to tumble into the underlying void where it was subsequently engulfed with loose coal. The layering effect of the fine coal and the fact that deenergized feeders gravity fed onto the draw-off belt conveyor without being positively identified led to a steep-sided void completely bridged over the No. 1 Feeder which was unobserved by the victim or any other personnel on the midnight or preceding shifts.
A 103(k) Order(No. 7303388) was issued to insure the safety of all personnel until an investigation of the accident was completed.
Citation No. 7297191 was issued under 30 CFR 77.404(a). The clean coal stockpile and draw-off tunnel system including vibratory feeders were not maintained in a safe operating condition. When the draw-off belt conveyor was in operation coal would gravity feed through all four of the feeders when they were deenergized increasing the potential for voids to form in the stockpile where persons and machinery were working. Equipment operators communicated by radio with the loadout operator to identify active and inactive feeders. Deenergized feeders that fed coal by gravity could not always be positively identified. Written company safe work procedures addressed energized feeders but made no reference to deenergized feeders that were feeding by gravity. Additionally, statements given during the investigation indicated that the remote control system for raising and lowering the visual markers for each feeder did not always function properly.
Citation No. 7297192 was issued under 30 CFR 77.209. A hazardous condition, by way of a bridged cavity, was present on the coal storage stockpile. This undetected void was created by coal reclaiming operations beneath the storage pile. Jenkins' exposure to this hazard resulted in fatal injuries when he and the dozer he was operating were drawn into the void and subsequently covered by coal.
The Nos. 2 and 3 Feeders were blocked with steel plates. The Nos. 1 and 4 Feeders alone will be used until hydraulic doors are installed on all feeders to eliminate gravity flow.
The Nos. 1 and 4 Feeders will be energized before dozers enter the stockpile. Examinations will be made in the draw-off tunnel to verify that coal is feeding properly until the hydraulic doors are installed.
A visible void must be present above the Nos. 1 and 4 Feeders. If not, all employees will leave the stockpile and not return until the condition is corrected.
Hydraulic doors are to be installed that will eliminate gravity flow.
A lighting system will be installed in conjunction with the existing plastic ball feeder marker system which will indicate which feeders are energized. This system will be electrically interlocked with the hydraulic doors such that when each door is opened a light visible to persons on the stockpile will energize. Each feeder will have a separate indicator light.
Electrical interlocks will be installed such that the draw-off belt conveyor cannot be energized independently from vibrating feeders.
Benjamin S. Harding
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