WV official stands by lightning as Sago cause

ACCORDING to an official from the West Virginia Office of Miner’s Health, Safety and Training, there were two lightning strikes a short distance apart that occurred at virtually the same time the day of the Sago mine explosion in West Virginia. Donna Caudill reports from the West Virginia Coal Association symposium in Charleston
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Donna Schmidt

Terry Farley spoke very briefly in front of a large industry crowd at the WVCA’s annual gathering Wednesday, and did not entertain questions following his comments.

He noted that the “two large lightning strikes [occurred] within two, two-and-a-half miles from each other”, occurring “almost simultaneously”, and were scientifically recorded as a “seismic event”

“We have findings that cannot be ignored, regardless of how much some may differ with it,” Farley said. He added that the agency has received “at least one unsolicited expert opinion in support of the findings” that point the finger to lightning as causing the January 2 explosion that killed 12 and left one seriously injured.

Farley also confirmed that the agency’s document, postponed since December after the families expressed “concerns”, should be posted on the office’s website “the latter part of next week” for public viewing.

“Other than some editing and grammatical corrections, there are no substantive changes,” he said.

Farley said he’d let the “technical experts” at the WVOMHST discuss the details of the incident at greater length and respond to inquiries, which will occur during a meeting the agency has scheduled at the Charleston Civic Center on January 17 at 10am local time, when the report will be presented.

In the meantime, the office will “obviously provide additional information if and when” it is appropriate, Farley said.

The WVCA symposium runs through Friday at the Charleston House Holiday Inn. Keep watching International Longwall News for more coverage of the event.

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