Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452
Released Monday, October 15, 2001
Mine Safety Head Discusses Recovery Efforts at Jim Walter #5
Introduces Lead Investigator in Accident
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave Lauriski held a news media update today at the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA's) Birmingham, Ala., district office regarding the ongoing recovery efforts and investigation into two explosions Sept. 23 at the Jim Walter Resources No. 5 Mine near Brookwood. Thirteen miners died in the blasts.
Since the day of the explosions, MSHA personnel have maintained an ongoing presence at the mine site. They've set up a command center to monitor ongoing conditions and accompany mine rescue teams underground in their efforts to recover Jim Walter #5.
"First and foremost, our immediate goal is to recover the bodies of the 12 men who remain inside the mine," said Lauriski.
Lauriski discussed the complicated steps the rescue teams have undertaken in their efforts to reach the victims, including pumping millions of gallons of water into the mine, sealing off mined-out areas, adjusting ventilation controls and conducting gas tests. "At every step of the way," he emphasized, "the safety of these teams has been our primary consideration."
Lauriski also discussed the three most important phases of the investigation, which are ongoing:
- Collection of information - includes mine record books, maps, fan charts and other information that will allow MSHA to reconstruct the events prior to the explosion.
- In-mine visit - the investigation team entered the mine Saturday and collected 340 coal dust and rock dust samples, which they are examining for the direction and the extent of the explosive forces.
- Interview process - Interviews began today with miners.