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Mine Disasters in the United States
 

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U. S. Mine Disasters Since 1970
Includes mine disasters which resulted in 5 or more fatalities

Date Company Mine Location Deaths
04/05/2010 Massey Energy Company Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion Montcoal, WV 29
At approximately 3:02 p.m. on Easter Monday, April 5, 2010, a powerful explosion tore through the Upper Big Branch mine, owned by Massey Energy and operated by its subsidiary, Performance Coal Company, at the convergence of Boone and Raleigh counties in southern West Virginia.  Twenty-nine miners died and one was seriously injured as the enormously powerful blast rocketed through two and one-half miles of underground workings nearly 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the rugged mountains along the Coal River.  The disaster has had grave consequences for a mining company, for a community and, most importantly, for the family members who lost men dear to them.
08/06/2007 Genwal and Murray Energy Corp. Crandall Canyon Mine Cave-in Huntington, UT 9
On August 6, 2007, at 2:48 a.m., a catastrophic coal outburst accident occurred during pillar recovery in the South Barrier section, while the section crew was mining the barrier near crosscut 139.  The outburst initiated near the section pillar line (the general area where the miners were working) and propagated toward the mine portal.  On August 16, 2007, at 6:38 p.m., a coal outburst occurred from the pillar between the No. 1 and No. 2 entries, adjacent to rescue workers as they were completing the installation of ground support behind the continuous mining machine.  Coal ejected from the pillar dislodged standing roof supports, steel cables, chain-link fence, and a steel roof support channel, which struck the rescue workers and filled the entry with approximately four feet of debris.  Ventilation controls were damaged and heavy dust filled the clean-up area, reducing visibility and impairing breathing. Also, air from inby the clean-up area containing approximately 16% oxygen migrated over the injured rescue workers.  Nearby rescue workers immediately started digging out the injured miners and repairing ventilation controls.  Two mine employees, Dale Black and Brandon Kimber, and one MSHA inspector, Gary Jensen, received fatal injuries.  Six additional rescue workers, including an MSHA inspector, were also injured.
05/20/2006 Kentucky Darby LLC Darby Mine No. 1 Explosion Holmes Mill, KY 5
A methane explosion occurred behind the seals at A Left, which was caused by the cutting of a metal roof strap that passed through the No. 3 Seal.  The forces from the explosion resulted in fatal injuries to the two miners and complete destruction of the seals.  Forces from the explosion also damaged conveyor belt structure, roof supports, and ventilation controls.  The four miners who were working in the B Left Section attempted to evacuate and encountered thick smoke approximately four crosscuts outby the section power center.  At this point they donned their CSE SR-100 self contained self rescue (SCSR) devices and attempted to continue their evacuation.  During the evacuation, at least two of the miners intermittently removed their SCSR mouthpieces to communicate.  The miners eventually became separated from each other.  One miner survived and three died due to carbon monoxide poisoning with smoke and soot inhalation.
01/02/2006 International Mines Corporation Sago Mine Explosion Tallmansville, WV 12
At 6:26 a.m., a methane ignition in a recently sealed area of the mine triggered an explosion that blew out the seals and propelled smoke, dust, debris and lethal carbon monoxide into the working sections of the mine.  One miner was killed by the blast.  Sixteen escaped.  Twelve were unable to escape and retreated to await rescue behind a curtain at the face of the Two Left section.  Approximately 41 hours later, mine rescuers entered the mine and found the trapped miners.  As a result of this extended delay, all but one, Randal McCloy Jr., had succumbed from carbon monoxide asphyxiation.
09/23/2001 Jim Walter Resources JWR No. 5 Mine Explosions Brookwood, AL 13
On September 23, 2001, two separate explosions occurred at approximately 5:20 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. in 4 Section of the Jim Walter Resources, Inc., (JWR) No. 5 Mine, resulting in fatal injuries to thirteen miners.  At the time of the explosions, thirty-two miners were underground during a non-producing Sunday afternoon shift.  Prior to the first explosion, three miners were building cribs to address deteriorating roof and rib conditions in the No. 2 Entry of 4 Section near the scoop battery charging station.  A fourth miner was nearby delivering additional materials.  A roof fall occurred at the intersection near the scoop battery charging station, releasing methane and damaging a scoop battery.  A methane explosion occurred within minutes after the roof fall when an explosive methane-air mixture was ignited by arcing of the damaged battery.  All four miners were injured.  Three of the miners, including the section foreman, exited 4 Section.  Due to the severity of his injuries, the fourth miner could not be moved from the section.  The explosion damaged critical ventilation controls.
12/07/1992 Southmountain Coal Company Southmountain No. 3 Mine Explosion Norton, VA 8
At approximately 6:15 a.m., an explosion occurred on the 1 Left section of Southmountain Coal Co. Inc.'s No. 3 Mine at Norton, Virginia.  Eight miners were killed, and another miner working in an outby area was injured.  MSHA investigators concluded that an open flame from a cigarette lighter found on the mine floor was the ignition source.  Persons were smoking in the mine, and the operator's smoking search program was not effective.  One cigarette pack containing nine unsmoked cigarettes was found on a victim located at the point of origin, and ten smoked cigarettes were found in his pockets.
09/13/1989 Pyro Mining Company William Station Mine Explosion Sullivan, KY 10
At about 9:13 a.m., an explosion occurred on Longwall Panel "O" between the 4th and 5th West entries off the first Main North entry, of Pyro Mining Company's Pyro No. 9 Slope, William Station Mine, located at Sullivan, Kentucky.  Fourteen miners were present in the longwall recovery area at the time of the explosion.  Ten died as a result of the explosion; four escaped despite being exposed to high concentrations of carbon monoxide and smoke.  MSHA investigators concluded that the primary cause of the explosion was the failure of management to maintain a sufficient volume and velocity of air in the proper direction in the 4th West entries and longwall face to dilute, render harmless, and carry away methane accumulations in that area.
02/06/1986 Consolidation Coal Company Loveridge No. 22 Bin Collapse Fairview, WV 5
On February 5, 1986, the shift foreman at the Loveridge No. 22 coal mine discovered damage in the rails of a tripper belt structure above the raw coal storage bin.  The next day at approximately 11:00 a.m., seven company and contractor officials walked to the top of a raw coal pile located below the rails to inspect the damage.  About five minutes later, a section of the coal pile that was 4 to 6 feet in diameter suddenly collapsed.  Five of the individuals were rapidly swallowed by the hole and suffocated.  The two others escaped injury.  MSHA investigators attributed the development of the crater to the normal operation of a feeder beneath the coal pile that was designed to move coal from the pile to a processing plant, and attributed the accident to management's failure to prevent the development of such craters and to detect their existence.
12/19/1984 Emery Mining Corporation Wilberg Mine Fire Orangeville, UT 27
On the evening of December 19, 1984, twenty-eight people -- over twice the usual crew number -- were present in the Fifth Right longwall section as the crew neared completion of a new twenty-four-hour world-production record.  At about 9 p.m., fire broke out in First North near the entrance to the Fifth Right section.  First North, the main haulageway into the Wilberg Mine, consisted of a series of six parallel tunnels running several miles into the mountain.  Just over a mile along First North were the two right-hand tunnels leading to the Fifth Right longwall section.  Within minutes, smoke and lethal gases traveled the 2,400 feet down Fifth Right to the working face of the longwall.  One miner escaped, but eighteen miners and nine company officials were trapped and killed.
06/21/1983 Clinchfield Coal Company McClure No. 1 Mine Explosion McClure, VA 7
At approximately 10:15 p.m., an explosion occurred in the 2 Left entries of McClure No. 1 Mine of Clinchfield Coal Co., located at McClure, Virginia.  Ten miners were present in the 2 Left entries at the time of the explosion, eight in the face area and two in the track entry.  Seven died as a result of the explosion.  Three miners at the faces survived the explosion and were rescued.  MSHA investigators concluded that the primary cause of the explosion was the failure of mine management to maintain sufficient volume and velocity of air in the No. 2 and No. 3 entries of 2 Left to dilute, render harmless, and carry away the methane gas being liberated in those entries.
01/20/1982 RFH Coal Company RFH No. 1 Mine Explosion Craynor, KY 7
On January 20, 1982, at approximately 9:40 a.m., a coal dust explosion occurred in the 001 section of RFH Coal Co.'s No. 1 Mine located at Mink Branch near Craynor, Floyd County, Kentucky.  All seven miners working underground at the time of the explosion were killed.  MSHA investigators concluded that coal dust ignited in the No. 5 room when explosives were detonated in the developing crosscut between the Nos. 5 and 6 rooms.  The crosscut was being mined from the No. 6 room toward the No. 5 room.  Prior to blasting, the coal remaining in the crosscut between the two rooms was approximately 5 feet thick.  When the crosscut was blasted, it shot through into the No. 5 room.  The flames from the explosion were not contained within the boreholes due to either a blown-out or blown-through shot, excessive explosives used per hole, or an overburdened or underburdened shot.  The flames that resulted ignited a cloud of coal dust in the No. 5 room.  The flames then propagated into the No. 6 room as well as out of the No. 5 room into other areas of the mine.
12/08/1981 Grundy Mining Company Grundy No. 21 Mine Explosion Whitewell, TN 13
At approximately 12:00 midnight, an explosion occurred in 003 section of the No. 21 Mine of Grundy Mining Co., Inc., located at Whitewell, Tennessee.  There were 56 men in the mine when the explosion occurred; 13 died, 43 survived.  Six remained underground to participate in the recovery operations, and the remainder escaped to the surface.  MSHA investigators concluded that methane accumulations in the Nos. 2 and 3 Left gob off 5 Right flowed through a 4-ft. by 7-ft. hole and test boreholes in No. 2 and No. 3 entries of 003 section.  Because intake air to the section was short-circuited from the faces at a crosscut between No. 2 and No. 3 entries (3 crosscuts outby the faces), methane migrated into the 003 section from the faces of No. 2 and No. 3 entries.  It was concluded that a miner using a cigarette lighter ignited the methane-air mixture, causing the explosion.
12/07/1981 Adkins Coal Company Adkins No. 11 Mine Explosion Kite, KY 8
At approximately 2:50 p.m., a coal dust explosion occurred on the south main working section at the No. 11 Mine, Adkins Coal Co., located at Kite, Knott County, Kentucky.  The accident resulted in the death of all eight miners who were underground at the time.  The accident occurred while the face and right crosscut were being blasted simultaneously from the solid in the No. 1 entry of the active working section.  MSHA investigators concluded that a coal dust explosion occurred when a blown-out shot from the right corner blasthole of the No. 1 entry face on the south main section ignited coal dust that had been put into suspension by the blasts of this face and the face of the right crosscut.
04/15/1981 Mid-Continent Resources, Inc. Dutch Creek No. 1 Explosion Redstone, CO 15
At approximately 4:08 p.m., a methane and coal dust explosion occurred in the 102 longwall development section of Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine located near Redstone, Colorado.  Fifteen miners died as a result.  Nine of the victims were working in the 102 section and six were working in the Slope section.  Six miners working in other areas of the mine at the time of the explosion survived.  Three were injured and were rescued; the other three were not injured and escaped unassisted to the surface.  MSHA investigators concluded that an outburst occurred at the face of the No. 1 entry on the 102 section that released large amounts of methane and coal dust.  This was caused by extensive stresses exerted on the coalbed and face by the massive overburden and other geological conditions in the mine.  The outburst created an explosive atmosphere.
11/07/1980 Westmoreland Coal Company Ferrell No. 17 Explosion Uneeda, WV 5
The explosion occurred in 1 east 2 south and resulted in the deaths of five miners.  Rescue and recovery efforts commenced on November 7, 1980, and the bodies of the five miners were recovered on November 8, 1980.  On November 11, 1980, the decision was made to build seals outby the affected area.  The seals were completed on November 13, 1980.  On November 12, 1980, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) began an investigation of the explosion.  The sealing of the area of the mine affected by the explosion prevented the MSHA investigators from completing the underground portion of the investigation.
06/08/1979 Cargill, Incorporated Belle Isle Salt Mine Explosion Franklin, LA 5
Shortly before 11:00 p.m. on June 8, 1979, a scheduled blast was initiated in the Belle Isle Mine, a salt mine.  About ten minutes later a gas explosion occurred, sending intensely hot hurricane-like winds throughout the mine.  These gales blew out ventilation controls, including stoppings and doors, and upended trucks and other heavy machinery.  Standing at the surface when the explosion occurred, a general mine foreman compared the explosion's sound to that of a dozen freight trains.  MSHA investigators determined that the scheduled, initial blast had triggered a massive "outburst" of about 15,750 tons of broken salt and flammable gases.  Included in these gases were methane and minute quantities of other hydrocarbons, which were ignited by electric arcs, sparks, or burning electric cable insulation.
04/04/1978 Clinchfield Coal Company Moss No. 3 Portal A Inundation Duty, VA 5
In March 1978, water inundated some abandoned sections in the Moss No. 3 Portal A Mine, soon after work began on the creation of a 265 foot single-entry drainway in the coal seam that connected an abandoned area of the mine to the surface.  The drainway was designed to prevent additional flooding by funneling rising waters from the worked-out area into the nearby Fryingpan Creek.  At about 12:30 p.m. on April 4, four men were working to advance the drainway into an abandoned, mined-out area on the left side of the drainway face.  Although the air in the abandoned area was not first tested or analyzed for carbon dioxide after a test borehole penetrated the area.  The continuous mining machine was used to intentionally breach the area with a hole that measured 14 by 20 inches.  Immediately after creation of the hole, the drainway was inundated by blackdamp (oxygen-deficient air).
03/01/1977 Kocher Coal Company Porter Tunnel Mine Inundation Tower City, PA 9
On Tuesday, March 1, 1977, at approximately 11:50 a.m., an inrush of water occurred in the West Skidmore South Dip conveyor gangway section of the Porter Tunnel Mine, Kocher Coal Company, causing the death of nine miners, injuries to three and entrapment of one who was eventually rescued.  Six miners in the effected section escaped safely via the return air emergency escapeway leading to the surface.  The miners working in other sections of the mine, 65 in all, traveled both the intake and return air escapeways leading to the surface.
03/11/1976 Scotia Coal Company Scotia Mine Explosions Oven Fork, KY 26
Two gas and coal dust explosions, the first at approximately 11:45 a.m., March 9, 1976, and the second at approximately 11:30 p.m., March 11, 1976, occurred in the 2 Southeast Main area of the Scotia Mine, Scotia Coal Company, Ovenfork, Letcher County, Kentucky.  All 15 men working in the 2 Southeast Main area at the time of the first explosion died as a result of the explosion.  Ninety-one men in other parts of the mine at that time reached the surface without mishap.  At the time of the second explosion, 13 men were underground near the entrance of 2 Southeast Main; 11 died as the result of the explosion and 2 repairmen working a short distance outby escaped without injury.
12/16/1972 Itmann Coal Company Itmann No. 3 Mine Explosion Itmann, WV 5
A mine explosion occurred about 3:45 p.m., along the combined haulage track and belt entry in the Cabin Creek 4 panel section.  The Cabin Creek 4 panel crew was in a portal bus enroute to the surface when the explosion occurred; five of the 8-man crew were killed and the other three men were burned severely and required hospitalization.  None of the other shift employees were affected by the occurrence.  The explosion originated about 1,000 feet outby the section working faces and was confined to the Cabin Creek 4 panel section.  An explosive methane-air mixture accumulated in No. 1 entry used for conveyor belt and track haulage and was ignited by the portal bus transporting the section crew to the surface.
07/22/1972 Consolidation Coal Company Blacksville No. 1 Mine Fire Blacksville, WV 9
A mine fire occurred about 7:30 p.m., along the No. 3 north mains track haulageway between the junctions of A-1 and A-2 sections.  At the time of the fire, 43 men were in the mine.  An acting shift foreman and four workmen were transporting a 1-JCM ripper-type continuous-mining machine, which was involved in the fire.  Two foremen and 27 other employees were doing miscellaneous work in other parts of the mine outby the origin of the fire.  A foreman and four workmen in the A-3 section were engaged in miscellaneous work inby the fire, and these nine employees remain entombed in the mine.  Except for the foreman and eight employees working inby the origin of the fire, all other workmen in the mine at the time of the occurrence escaped without incident via the service shaft portal.
05/02/1972 Sunshine Mining Company Sunshine Mine Fire Kellogg, ID 91
A fire of undetermined origin was detected by Sunshine employees at approximately 11:35 a.m. on May 2, 1972.  At that time, smoke and gas was coming from the 910 raise on the 3700 level.  This fire precipitated the death of 91 underground employees by smoke inhalation and/or carbon monoxide poisoning.  A subsequent shutdown of production of 7 months followed.  Evacuation efforts at the time of the onset resulted in 81 men being evacuated the first day and 2 men being rescued 7 days later from the 4800 level.
02/26/1972 Buffalo Mining Company Buffalo Creek Dam Failure Saunders, WV 125
A coal refuse retaining dam near the mouth of Middle Fork, Saunders, Logan County, West Virginia, failed about 8 a.m., Saturday, February 26, 1972.  The dam failure released water, refuse, and silt into the valley traversed by Buffalo Creek and created havoc in the narrow valley.  The flooding resulted in the confirmed deaths of 125 persons, total destruction of 502 permanent home structures and 44 mobile homes, major damage to 268 additional permanent home structures and 42 mobile homes, and minor damage to 270 additional homes along Buffalo Creek from Saunders to Man, West Virginia, a distance of about 17 miles.  It was estimated that about 4,000 persons were left homeless.
04/12/1971 Ozark-Mahoning Company Barnett Complex Mine Asphyxiations Rosiclare, IL 7
Seven men died as a result of exposure to Hydrogen Sulfide gas in advance workings on the 800-foot level of the Barnett Complex Mine, Ozark-Mahoning Company, Pope County, Illinois.  Two brothers, William and Philip Long, entered an area of the mine and were subsequently overcome by Hydrogen Sulfide gas.  An additional 5 employees made several attempts to reach the Long brothers and bring them to fresh air.  After finally reaching the downed brothers and loading them onto a locomotive to bring them out, they too were overcome and killed by the toxic gas.
12/30/1970 Finley Coal Company Nos. 15 and 16 Mine Explosion Hyden, KY 38
A coal dust explosion occurred in the interconnected Nos. 15 and 16 mines of the Finley Coal Company at about 12:20 p.m.  Thirty-eight of the 39 men who were underground at the time were killed.  Observations made during the investigation of the disaster indicate that 14 men who were employed in No. 16 mine were apparently killed instantly by the explosion, and 3 others who may have moved a short distance after the explosion possibly died from asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning.  Nineteen men, who were employed in No. 15 mine, were apparently killed instantly by the explosion, and 2 others who may have moved a short distance after the explosion presumably died from asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning.  The lone survivor was near the portal in the belt entry of No. 15 mine when the explosion occurred.  He was injured slightly by the explosion force and the debris coming out of the mine.



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