Governor responds to mine disaster report

WEST Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin has vowed to prevent another coal mining tragedy in the state following the latest report into a mine explosion which killed 29 men.
Governor responds to mine disaster report Governor responds to mine disaster report Governor responds to mine disaster report Governor responds to mine disaster report Governor responds to mine disaster report

West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin.

Lauren Barrett

The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training’s long-awaited final report into the Upper Big Branch blast revealed grim insights into the cause of the disaster.

It found a machine cutting through sandstone to reach coal had created the heat or spark methane needed to ignite.

Broken water sprayers failed to stop the fireball from turning into a much more powerful explosion which was fuelled by coal dust.

The state also concluded there was a combination of poor ventilation, inadequate rock dusting and the failure to remove ignition sources at the UBB.

Following the release of the report on Thursday, Tomblin said it echoed the same theme present in other investigations resulting from the 2010 disaster.

“Much like the other reports on the tragic explosion at the UBB mine – one common theme prevails; this disaster was preventable,” he said.

Last month Tomblin revealed plans to submit new legislation that could advance mine safety and mandatory drug and alcohol testing for the industry.

His proposal includes an enhanced standard for rock dusting, the requirement of methane sensors at longwalls and increasing pre-shift examinations.

Tomblin said the new legislation would ensure the UBB explosion was never repeated.

“We simply cannot bear another mine disaster in West Virginia,” Tomblin said.

"I am working with the legislature to make sure that my legislation, currently pending in the House of Delegates, passes so that we can work to prevent another mine disaster from occurring.

“I am confident that the legislature will soon pass House Bill 4351 so that I can sign it and we can immediately begin its implementation,” he said.

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