Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (202) 693-9400
Released Friday, January 24, 2003
MSHA Announces Team to Investigate Fatal Shaft Explosion
ARLINGTON, Va. - The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced the team of agency personnel who will investigate the cause of this week's fatal shaft explosion at the Mc Elroy Mine in Marshall County, W.Va. Three miners died and three miners were injured in the blast.
"I have directed the investigation team to identify all the root causes of the explosion. We will analyze what caused this tragedy and we also want to use the information to prevent similar situations in the future," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave D. Lauriski. "We will use all the tools provided in federal mine safety and health law - enforcement, education and training, and technical assistance - to enhance safety for all miners."
The MSHA team investigating the shaft explosion has expertise in a variety of specialties. Heading the investigation team is James Oakes, manager of MSHA's District 8 office in Vincennes, Ind.
Other team members are:
- Clete Stephan and Richard Stoltz, mining engineers from the agency's Technical Support division in Pittsburgh, Pa.;
- Virgil Brown, a specialist with the agency's Mine Emergency Unit in Beckley, W.Va.;
- Joseph Tortorea, a mining engineer from New Stanton, Pa.;
- Robert Penigar, a mine inspector from Kittanning, Pa;
- Jerry Vance, an education and training specialist with the agency's Educational Field Services organization in Morgantown W.Va.; and
- James M. Crawford, an attorney from the Department of Labor's Office of the Solicitor, Division of Mine Safety and Health, Arlington, Va.
MSHA's investigation into the Mc Elroy shaft explosion began yesterday. Team members will examine the accident site, review mine records, and interview individuals who may have information about the sequence of events leading to the explosion.