One killed, one missing in separate accidents

FRIDAY was not a good day in US coal mining – with the confirmed death of a worker at an Alpha Natural Resources mine, and another two hurt and one missing at a Consol Energy complex.
One killed, one missing in separate accidents One killed, one missing in separate accidents One killed, one missing in separate accidents One killed, one missing in separate accidents One killed, one missing in separate accidents

Consol Energy's Robinson Run longwall.

Donna Schmidt

Officials have confirmed the death of electrician Steve O’Dell, 27, at Alpha’s White Buck Pocahontas mine near Rupert, Greenbrier County, a mine formerly held by Massey Energy.

O’Dell, who had three years of experience, was caught between a battery-powered scoop and the ripper head of a continuous miner about 1.30am.

He died from his injuries a short time later in hospital.

“We are all saddened by the loss of a talented colleague and friend,” Alex Energy subsidiary president Craig Boggs said.

“Our sympathies go out to the O'Dell family. The prayers and thoughts of all of us are with Steven's family at this difficult time."

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training have started investigating the accident.

The fatality, the 18th in US coal in 2012, is the sixth in West Virginia this year. Half of the state’s deaths since January have occurred at Alpha mines.

It is also the second death in two years at the White Buck Pocahontas operation. Another worker was killed there in July 2010.

Less than 12 hours later, shortly after noon local time, a bulldozer and two pickups slid into coal slurry pond at Consol Energy’s Robinson Run mine after an embankment at the impoundment collapsed.

Two engineers who went into the water were rescued quickly from the Nolans Run impoundment on Robinson Run’s property in Ohio County, West Virginia, treated at local medical centers and released.

However, the search continued over the weekend for a third unidentified worker who had been operating the dozer. ILN was still awaiting a status update from federal and company officials at publication time.

WVOMHST director C A Phillips said Consol had been working on some repairs on a road at the site.

"The road runs around the impoundment," he said. “The road gave way and they went in.”

Consol spokeswoman Lynn Seay told the Associated Press Saturday that the bulldozer was located earlier in the day.

“The dive crew is currently trying to determine the depth of the dozer," she said.

“Once that determination is made, the recovery operations will stop for the night to allow for development of a recovery plan and will resume in the morning. We cannot yet determine if our employee is in the cab of the bulldozer and will not know that until we proceed with the recovery plan.”

Dive crews were reportedly scheduled to return early Sunday morning to the 12-foot pond, but no further information on crews’ efforts were available Sunday afternoon US time.

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