Thirtieth Anniversary of the Loveridge Surge Pile Collapse
Thirty years ago, on February 6, 1986 at approximately 11:00 a.m. on the surface surge pile of the Loveridge No. 22 underground coal mine, five workers fell through a collapsed cavity in the raw coal pile and suffocated. The men had gathered and walked to the top of the raw coal pile to observe damage to an overhead structure when the accident occurred. Prior to the accident, a cavity existed in the pile above the feeder – a phenomenon known as “bridging”. The men should not have been permitted to walk or stand on the storage pile when there was a danger created by the reclaiming operations.
While there have been no surge pile fatalities since 2004, MSHA still periodically emphasizes safety awareness about the most common surge pile hazards. Many common accidents and near-misses involve bulldozers falling with the threat of inundation and suffocation.
At MSHA we have been working hard to address the lessons learned from Loveridge and other mining tragedies to make mines safer for our Nation's miners. We will never forget those miners who perished at Loveridge: Roger Alke, Ronald Bell, Joseph Dunn, David Kovach, and Joseph Leonard. On this 30th anniversary of the Loveridge mine disaster, we pledge our continued efforts to eliminate these needless tragedies.