Centralia

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Centralia No.5: A Mine Tragedy That Didn’t Have to Happen
Tisa S. Frederick
Strayer University
PAD500016VA016-1126-001 (Modern Public Administration)
Dr. Joseph Keller
July 22, 2012

Centralia No.5: A Mine Tragedy That Didn’t Have To Happen
On March 25, 1947, the mining world in the city of Centralia, Illinois was forever changed. This was the day 111 miners lost their lives, in Centralia No. 5, due to the neglect and disregard of the safety issues that were presented to those, for five (5) years, that were supposed to protect them. The blame lies at the feet of many. A few of them were Dirscoll O. Scanlan, State Mine Inspector, assigned to Centralia No. 5, Director of Mines and Mines and Minerals, Robert M. Medill and Governor, at the time, Dwight H. Green. In this paper I will present the following: 1. Identify and explain a few logistical ways Scanlan could have addressed the issues 2. Analyze and discuss Scanlan’s motivation toward the Constitution (the law), bureaucracy (as a public administrator responsible to the public), and obligation 3. Present directions of action Scanlan could have taken

This is truly a tragedy that could have been prevented. You will see how “Politics at the highest level of Illinois government played a critical role in the conditions that led to the accidents” (Hartley & Kennedy, 2006). Logistical Alternatives

Centralia No. 5 was a thriving coal mine during World War 2. On March 25, 1947 a blast, due to excessive mine dust. “Mine inspectors had been denouncing Centralia's No. 5 for years-one recent report had listed many dangerous violations of safety codes, but little had ever been done to correct them” (Time 1947). The case study of Centralia No.5 (Stillman, p.30) gives a recount of the facts leading up to the blast and also reveals the inner complexities of the administrative framework of modern society. It outlines a coal company sensitive only to profit incentives, state regulatory agencies inadequacy in enforcing mine safety legislation, federal officials and mine unions complacent about the growing problems; and the miners incapable of protecting themselves against the impending disaster. Alternative 1

Implementation of mandatory haulage road cleaned. One of the main things Scanlan reported on and the workers complained about was Centralia being dry and dusty. Knowing these conditions could cause an explosion, he could have cut the mine budget elsewhere to hire a crew that was solely responsible for just hulling the dust. He could have increased his visits to the mine to ensure this was taking place or had someone report to him weekly of the progress. Alternative 2

Installation of a sprinkler system. Although the funding was not approved for a sprinkler system to be installed, he could have suggested to the mine manger to cut the budget elsewhere or encourage fund raising to drum up a way to get the funds. He could have also written a letter to the state requesting the funds, outlining the importance of the sprinkler system and how if he had to shut down the mine it would cost the state money in the long run. Alternative 3

Scanlan could have also taken the Local Unions advice and brought charges up against the mine manager himself. Although the Local Union went through with their treat to bring up the charges, Scanlan should have backed them up and brought his own charges against the mine manager. I believe this would have given their argument a little more leverage. I think he should have also brought charges up on Director Medill if he could as well. Alternative 4

Shut down the mine. Scanlan had the authority to shut the mine down but did not do so. After his attempts of getting the mines dusted and sprinkled failed, this would have been an alternative for him. This would have shown the higher ups just...
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