Centralia Mine No 5

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This paper will look at some of the issues, actions and events that led up to the horrific explosion of Centralia No. 5 coal mine in Illinois that killed 111 miners just out of town limits of Centralia on Tuesday, March 25, 1947 at 3:26 pm. In this presentation, four logistical alternatives Driscoll Scanlan could have addressed will be identified and discussed. Analyzation and discussion of Driscoll Scanlan’s motivation towards the Constitution, or law, bureaucracy as a public administrator responsible to the public, and his motivation towards obligation of his position will be reviewed. Additionally, two potential paths of action for Driscoll Scanlan will be presented and defended.

The first logistical alternative Mr. Driscoll Scanlan could have pursued was to follow up on the letter he wrote to Mr. Robert M. Medill, Director of the Illinois Bureau of Mines and Minerals. After his initial contact with the director by phone, Mr. Medill instructed Mr. Scanlan to write up a detailed letter explaining his position. This was dutifully done, and had it been followed up on, it is believed this may have had drawn more serious attention to the issues, and not dismissal of the issue of the mine’s imminent danger. This action potentially would have meant an end to his job, depending on how fervently he pursued the issue and how the director responded to the insistence of action.

The second alternative could have been to contact Illinois Governor Dwight Green in person. This would have certainly garnered some attention to the issue, and let the governor know there were serious issues, preventing this from being passed off to an underling and the governor never knowing of the letter. This most likely would have cost Mr. Scanlan his job, but the miners may have remained alive.

A third alternative might have been to contact his political sponsor in the State House. This person knew of his integrity and would have taken him seriously. This should have been pursued only...
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