Mine Disasters

Topics: Coal mining, Mining accident, Sago Mine disaster Pages: 20 (3578 words) Published: June 10, 2011
Mining disaster in the past have been referred to mining accidents claiming five or more

lives. Mine disasters once were really common. In the single year of 1907 there were 18 coal

mine disasters.. Among the disasters in 1907 was history's worst the Monongah coal mine

explosion, which claimed 362 lives and impelled Congress to create the Bureau of Mines. I will

discuss this disaster more later in this paper.

Mine accidents have declined dramatically in number and severity through years of

research, technology, and preventive programs. Today mine accidents resulting in five or more

deaths are no longer common. However preventing recurrence of disasters like those of the past

remains a top priority requiring constant attention by management, labor, and government.

Thus, it happened in 1907 when the Fairmont Coal Company's mine at Monongah, West Virginia

exploded killing 362 men and boys. Congress reacted to the disaster at Monongah by passing and

toughening mining laws.Through disasters such as this one and many others it has forced laws

and regulations, technology,and training which has brought us into mining as we know it.

In 1910, following a decade in which the number of coal mine fatalities exceeded 2,000 annually,

Congress established the Bureau of Mines as a new agency in the Department of the Interior. The

Bureau was charged with the responsibility to conduct research and to reduce accidents in the

coal mining industry. In 1968 less than five miles from Monongah another explosion had

happened and the fire which resulted after killed 78 men at the Consol No 9 mines at

Farmington, West Virginia.

The Farmington explosion resulted in the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of

1969 a far reaching document that promised a new day for the men in an industry that had

claimed more than 100,000 lives since 1900. Even before the Farmington mine had exploded in

1968, there were a push going on for a better mine safety law. The Johnson Administration

introduced a measure in the fall of 1968 that would dramatically strengthen the governments

enforcement tools. It went to Congress too late and didn't hold up. Then came the explosion at

Farmington and there were new converts to the cause of mine safety. That is when the Nixon

Administration expanded upon the Johnson Administration proposals of 1968 and addressed the

potential for mine explosions in proposed legislation. President Nixon went on to sign the

Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 on December 30, 1969.

Enforcement powers in coal mines increased greatly, at that time the Act required four annual

inspections for each underground coal mine and two inspections for each surface mine. The Act

for the first time established mandatory fines for all violations and criminal penalties for knowing

and willful violations which was a big step in the right direction in my opinion. The act

eliminated non gassy mines from special legal exemptions. All mines were considered gassy and

additional inspections were required. The powers of the inspectors were expanded and the

inspectors were given the power to close a mine for imminent danger. Miners were given the

right to request a Federal inspection. Safety standards for all coal mines were strengthened under

the 1969 Act and health standards were also adopted. The Act also provided benefits to miners

disabled by black lung disease.

The legacy of the Sunshine Mine disaster is reflected in greatly enhanced miner training

programs and fire protection measures in metal and nonmetal mines across the country. In 1973

the (MESA) Mine Enforcement and Safety Administration was created out of the Bureau of

Mines as the first Federal agency with the sole purpose of assuring miners of a safe, healthful

working environment. Standards requiring mine emergency and...
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