Centralia No. 5

Topics: Mining, Mining accident, Coal dust Pages: 3 (1101 words) Published: May 6, 2012
Centralia No. 5: A Mine Disaster No One Stopped

The Centralia Mine opened in 1907 and remained free of fatal accidents for decades (Walker, 2006). By the 1940’s mine inspectors began reporting excessive coal dust in the mines and also provided recommendations. In March 25, 1947, the Centralia No. 5 coal mine exploded near the town of Centralia, Illinois, killing 111 people. The explosion was caused when an under burdened explosive detonation ignited coal dust. The explosion of this mine should not have been a surprise to anyone. Driscoll Scanlan, who was a state mine inspector, notified public sector safety professionals from state and federal agencies of the hazards as a result of inspections. There were also union complaints and letters to state officials. Various officials of mine safety agencies and the mine company were notified on more than one occasion. Scanlan as well as the mine’s union had also pushed to have the hazards corrected. The lack of the federal and state officials to take action, along with the ignition of built up coal dust, resulted in the death of 111 coal miners. Identify and explain four (4) logistical alternatives Scanlan could have addressed. In 1941, Illinois Governor Dwight Green appointed Driscoll Scanlan, as one of the states 16 mine inspectors. Scanlan was highly recommended by a state representative (Martin, 1948). He was appointed as the inspector of the district which included Centralia Mine No. 5. State inspectors jobs include making sure mine operators comply with the state mining law (Stillman, 2010). His first inspection of Centralia No. 5 was in 1942. In his first report, his recommendations included cleaning and sprinkling the haulage roads. Scanlan inspected the mine several times in the years before the explosion. At the end of each inspection he sent his report to the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals. Several of his reports throughout 1942-1944 repeated his previous recommendations...

References: Martin, J.B. (1948). The blast in Centralia No. 5. Harper’s Magazine, 1-38.
Martin, J. (2000). The blast in Centralia No. 5: A mine disaster no one stopped.
Saleh, J. (2011). Safety in the mining industry and the unfinished legacy of mining accidents: Safety levers and defense-in-depth for addressing mining hazards. Safety Science, 49, 6.
Stillman, R. (2010). Public administration concepts and cases (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co. pp. 30-44.
Walker, D. (2006). Death underground: The Centralia and West Frankfort mine disasters.
Ward Jr., K. (2007). Shafted. Washington Monthly,39 (3), 22-28.
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