CASE ANALYSIS: "THE BLAST IN CENTRALIA NO. 5"
The obvious problem with Centralia No. 5 is that an explosion killed 111 people. However, prior to the actual explosion, the problem is less obvious, especially since Centralia No. 5 was similar to so many mines that did not explode. In this analysis, I will examine the possible roles and responsibilities of Driscoll O. Scanlan, the mine inspector, given the "corruption of modern administrative enterprises" prior to the accident. From this perspective, the perspective of a public official in the field, the problem is that a potential danger exists and the regulatory machinery in place to address the danger is ineffective. As an expert, Scanlan recommended that the mine be "dusted" with non-explosive, pulverized stone to diminish the possibility of the coal dust's exploding. However, his expert advice alone was not enough to motivate a response. History
The chronology of the case shows a progression of "appropriate" action within the existing law and according to organization or bureaucratic norms. On an organiza¬tional level, the players include the State of Illinois, the U.S. Government, the Centralia Coal Company, the United Mine Workers of America, and the miners themselves, who could hardly be said to have been well represented by any of the others. Beginning in 1941, Scanlan's reports of "excessive coal dust" in the Centralia No. 5 mine were sent to Robert Medill, the Director of the Department of Mines and Minerals, and handled as "routine" by Robert Weir, the Assistant to the Director. All three positions were appointed by the Governor, Dwight H. Green. Also in 1941, the U.S. Bureau of Mines began making inspections of mines. The first inspection of Centralia No. 5 was in September 1942. However, only the State of Illinois had any power to enforce compliance, and reports from the Bureau there¬fore had primary significance as further documentation in the hands of the Department of Mines and...
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