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Island Creek Coal Company
Virginia Pocahontas No. 1 Mine
Refuse Bin Collapse

Oakwood, Buchanan County, Virginia
August 24, 1982
No. Killed - 3

MSHA Final Investigation Report  (1.3 Mb)  PDF Format

In early July 1982 an independent contractor was hired to replace the worn sides and top portion of a 300-ton refuse bin located on the surface of the Virginia Pocahontas No. 1 Mine.

To accomplish this, the worn refuse bin along with six upper support or stub columns were cut above an encircling pressure ring, and then removed with a crane.  But when the stub columns were attached to the replacement bin on the ground, they were misaligned.

Because of this problem, these stubs were offset by at least eight inches from the main columns when they were lifted and then welded onto the main structure.

The improperly repaired refuse bin was used from July 12 until about 1:30 p.m. on August 24, 1982 - when its upper, replaced portion suddenly tipped and then dropped vertically.  Three men who had been working on the structure were fatally crushed in the collapse.

MSHA investigators determined that the independent contractor's misalignment of the stub columns had significantly reduced the load supporting capacity of the refuse bin, thereby leaving the facility structurally unsound.

The failure of both the independent contractor and mine management to adequately inspect the repaired facility after construction also contributed to the disaster.

Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume II

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