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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Wednesday, December 27, 2000, a 46-year old preparation-plant foreman, with 23 years experience, was fatally injured while he was trying to break ice from the end of an 8-inch slurry pipe line located on the impoundment. The frozen slurry pipe was laying in a swag below the crest of the impoundment and had been cut to clear the frozen slurry line. The victim had called the plant operator on the company radio and told him to start the pumps connected to the frozen slurry pipe line to try and flush out the ice. As the ice began to flow from the end of the pipe, the ice fouled against the embankment, stopping flow from the slurry pipe. The foreman instructed the miner working with him to stay in the company truck and call the plant operator to shut the pumps down when told. The victim went to a location at the end of the cut pipe on the downhill side, in order to break off the ice so the pumps could continue to push the ice from the pipe line. As the victim was breaking the ice, the pipe line suddenly broke free in a violent manner. The victim was struck, either by ice exiting the slurry pipe or by the slurry pipe being lifted into the air from the force of the ice being expelled. The pipe section on the pump side ended up on the impoundment hillside, which was over 70 feet from the location where it was cut.

Best Practices

  • Secure from movement the pressure side of pipes and hoses being flushed or cleared.
  • Open ends of pipes should be positioned so that material being flushed from within the pipe will not be obstructed.
  • All persons should move a safe distance from pipes being flushed and no one allowed in direct view of pipe openings being flushed or cleared.
  • More Information
    E-mail Suggestion for Accident Prevention Program
    Submit your own suggestion for a remedy to prevent this type of accident in the future.
    Please specify if you wish your submission to be anonymous or whether your name may be used. Please include the year of the fatality and the fatality number.

    This is the 38th fatality reported in calendar year 2000 in the coal mining industry. As of this date in 1999, there were 34 fatalities. This is the 1st accident classified as exploding vessel reported in the coal mining industry in 2000. As of this date in 1999, there were no fatal accidents classified as exploding vessel reported in the coal mining industry.

    The information provided in this notice is based on preliminary data ONLY and does not represent final determinations regarding the nature of the incident or conclusions regarding the cause of the fatality.

    For more information:
    Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon MSHA's Fatal Accident Investigation Report