On Feb. 6, Brandon Townsend, 34, was killed when a hydraulic jack exploded on a belt press at Midland Trail Energy’s Blue Creek preparation plant in Kanawha County. Midland Trail is owned by Patriot Coal.
The following day Edward Finney, 43, was crushed under a scoop at Pocahontas Coal Co.’s Affinity Mine in Raleigh County.
The two men bring the number of miners killed in the first five weeks of 2013 to five. Last year 36 miners lost their lives on the job.
On Feb. 2, the Charleston Gazette reported that the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training has yet to issue a single citation under the state’s coal dust standards put in place after 29 miners were killed in a dust-ignited explosion in Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County in April 2010.
Of the dust samples taken since August 2011, more than 20 percent—1,125—did not comply with the new standards.
“It’s a charade,” mine safety advocate Davitt McAteer told the Gazette. McAteer led an investigating team appointed by the governor into the Upper Big Branch disaster. “This dust issue was absolutely the most critical failure at the Upper Big Branch Mine and three years later, there’s still not a prevention measure in place to keep it from occurring again.”
Meanwhile, 18 workers were killed Feb. 11 in an underground explosion at a coal mine in the Komi region of northern Russia.
NY school bus strikers resist bosses, city gov’t
‘If they do this to us, they’ll do it to everyone’
Uruguay strikers win right to suspend work over safety
On-the-job construction deaths rise in New York
Membership in US unions is lowest in nearly a century
On the Picket Line
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