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Old 01-05-2006, 11:30 AM   #1
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Sago Mine had hundreds of violations

[q]Mine had hundreds of violations
USATODAY.com - Thu Jan 5, 7:19 AM ET

TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. - The West Virginia coal mine where an underground explosion left 12 miners dead and another with serious injuries had been cited for hundreds of federal safety violations since it opened in 1999, government records show. Among the infractions were at least 16 related to failures to prevent or adequately monitor the buildup of explosive gases in the mine.

(emphasis by Irvine)

http://news.yahoo.com/fc/us/sago_mine_explosion

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Old 01-05-2006, 11:36 AM   #2
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Old 01-05-2006, 11:40 AM   #3
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This hits close to home. I live 150 miles from where this horrible tragedy happened. All yesterday on the Pittsburgh's TV stations, it showed the vicitims famlies in outraged of the hope that was given and then taken away when told their loved ones were dead. Yes this mine did have 100 of violations, and nothing was done about them. There are going to be a lot of lawsuits filed against this company. My prayers goes out to the the many families that lost their loved ones.
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Old 01-05-2006, 11:45 AM   #4
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Does this mine stand out as unique in its violations? Are 16 violations over 6 years above or below norm? Was the Sago accident related to an active, unresolved violation?
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Old 01-05-2006, 11:50 AM   #5
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The norm?? Who cares about the norm?? One violation is too many, just like one murder/rape/robbery is too many.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:00 PM   #6
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Originally posted by karls77
The norm?? Who cares about the norm?? One violation is too many, just like one murder/rape/robbery is too many.
What would be your solution? Shut down any mine, factory, station or store with one violation? I think you would find a zero tolerance policy unworkable.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by tiny dancer
This hits close to home. I live 150 miles from where this horrible tragedy happened. All yesterday on the Pittsburgh's TV stations, it showed the vicitims famlies in outraged of the hope that was given and then taken away when told their loved ones were dead. Yes this mine did have 100 of violations, and nothing was done about them. There are going to be a lot of lawsuits filed against this company. My prayers goes out to the the many families that lost their loved ones.

As does mine I couldnt imagine what the families went through..being so happy only to have it all taken away.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:08 PM   #8
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Originally posted by nbcrusader


What would be your solution? Shut down any mine, factory, station or store with one violation? I think you would find a zero tolerance policy unworkable.
Possibly, depending on the violation. I just think that more care should be taken in such a high-risk industry where there is the potential for such catastrophic accidents. The "failure to prevent or adequately monitor the buildup of explosive gases" is quite an important matter when you're deep underground!
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:09 PM   #9
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Just heard on the local news that the miners that died each wrote their loved ones a letter and told them that they did not suffer and died in peace. Also doctors are hoping for the best for the lone survivor.
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Old 01-05-2006, 12:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by karls77


Possibly, depending on the violation. I just think that more care should be taken in such a high-risk industry where there is the potential for such catastrophic accidents. The "failure to prevent or adequately monitor the buildup of explosive gases" is quite an important matter when you're deep underground!
The nature of the violations described in the article is vague as well. There is a big difference between being related to the "preventing the buildup" and the "failure to adequately monitor". Lack of records could lead to a violation for the later in a well maintained mine.
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Old 01-05-2006, 01:43 PM   #11
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This is a more comprehensive article. The mine had even been shut down due to the owners refusal to make repairs or improvements. That would have never happened it it had been union.

Safety Violations Have Piled Up at Coal Mine

By Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 4, 2006; A04



Time and again over the past four years, federal mining inspectors documented the same litany of problems at central West Virginia's Sago Mine: mine roofs that tended to collapse without warning. Faulty or inadequate tunnel supports. A dangerous buildup of flammable coal dust.

Yesterday, the mine's safety record came into sharp focus as officials searched for explanations for Monday's underground explosion. That record, as reflected in dozens of federal inspection reports, shows a succession of operators struggling to overcome serious, long-standing safety problems, some of which could be part of the investigation into the cause of the explosion that trapped 13 miners.

In the past two years, the mine was cited 273 times for safety violations, of which about a third were classified as "significant and substantial," according to documents compiled by the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Many were for problems that could contribute to accidental explosions or the collapse of mine tunnels, records show.

In addition, 16 violations logged in the past eight months were listed as "unwarrantable failures," a designation reserved for serious safety infractions for which the operator had either already been warned, or which showed "indifference or extreme lack of care," said Tony Oppegard, a former MSHA senior adviser.

"That is a very high number, and it is usually indicative of a very poor safety record," Oppegard said.

Sago, a relatively small mine that listed 145 employees last year, was operated by Anker West Virginia Mining Co. until two months ago, when it was purchased by International Coal Group Inc. "Much of the bad history you're talking about was beyond our reach and ability to control," company chief executive Bennett K. Hatfield said yesterday. "But there's been dramatic improvement, and I think regulatory agencies will confirm that."

In the hours after Monday's explosion, Eugene Kitts, a company vice president for mining, said the 46 alleged violations described in MSHA's most recent inspection report were all minor. "We addressed them," he said.

But in MSHA's reports, 18 of the 46 most recent violations were listed as "significant and substantial." Among the problems cited: inadequate safeguards against the collapse of the mine roof and inadequate ventilation to guard against the buildup of deadly gases.

Other inspection reports over the past two years fault the mine for "combustibles," including a buildup of flammable coal dust and a failure to adequately insulate electric wires. Sparks from electrical equipment can ignite coal dust and methane gas, triggering fires and explosions.

The mine is contesting some of the violations, while agreeing to pay more than $24,000 in penalties to settle others.

Government documents also show a high rate of injuries and accidents at Sago. Although no miners were reported killed at the mine since at least 1995, 42 workers and contractors were injured in accidents since 2000, records show. The average number of working days lost because of accidents in the past five years was nearly double the national average for underground coal mines, MSHA documents show.

Some serious accidents caused no injuries. For example, in the past year, large sections of the mine's rocky roof collapsed on at least 20 occasions -- but not when workers were in the affected tunnels. Some of the collapsed sections were rocky slabs as long as 100 feet. The most recent roof collapse occurred on Dec. 5, less than a month before Monday's explosion.

J. Davitt McAteer, who headed MSHA during the Clinton administration, said he was troubled by an apparent spike in accidents and violations that occurred beginning about two years ago.

"The violations are not the worst I've ever seen -- and certainly not the best -- but I'm concerned about the trend and the direction they're going in. It's indication to those running the operation that you've got a problem here."

Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson in Sago, W.Va., contributed to this report.
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Old 01-05-2006, 04:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by karls77
The norm?? Who cares about the norm?? One violation is too many, just like one murder/rape/robbery is too many.
I would have to agree with NBCrusader here to an extent. I don't believe some occupations or activities can be made 100% safe. Should we close down hospitals becase many operations don't have a 100% success rate for example?
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Old 01-05-2006, 08:30 PM   #13
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workers - 12

management - 0

build socialism now.
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Old 01-05-2006, 08:36 PM   #14
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Yes because mines in socialist republics are so very much safer
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:54 PM   #15
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This kind of negligence is not only in the mining industry, it is in lots of other places too. The profit is the bottom line, workers be damned. Why do you think the execs and owners are earning millions and billions while workers are lucky to earn middle class money? They don't care about the workers, when they say they do, it's because they are put on the spot. A billionaire owner of a corporation living in the Hamptons or a New York skyscraper could care less about the employees. There are some exceptions but for the most part, it's like the middle ages, peasants in the village while the king lives in the castle. It isn't political or personal, it's just business. Like environmental fines, sometimes it's cheaper to pay the fine year after year rather than fix the problem. Sometimes with safety it's the same thing until threatened with a shutdown. But there are not enough inspectors in the safety industry to ensure all companies comply with regulations. This kind of thing will happen again and again and again.

Financeguy, the doctors and nurses aren't the ones being killed in hospitals, it's the patients. sometimes they get sick too. You can't make many occupations 100% safe but you can mitigate the risk to the point that only an unpredictable factor can cause injury as opposed to violations of safety regulations causing increased injury or death for employees.

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