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Mine Disasters in the United States

Zeigler Coal Company
Spartan Mine Roof Fall

Sparta, Randolph County, Illinois
September 15, 1980
No. Killed - 3

See also:   Ziegler Mine Explosion, Apr. 3, 1905
On September 15, 1980, miners in the No. 2 South Entry of the Spartan Mine encountered signs of subnormal roof conditions.  These signs included a roof bolt ping heard nearby the shooter near the face, and unusually soft drilling encountered by the roof bolt operator.  Although these signs were discussed with the section foreman, additional supports were not installed.

At about 10:00 p.m., the shuttle car operator observed portions of the roof fall near the face of the No. 2 South Entry.  Immediately after, he reversed the shuttle car, and "flagged" his cap lamp to warn three nearby miners of the apparent problem.  The three miners, however, were fatally injured in the roof fall that quickly followed.

MSHA investigators attributed the disaster to management's failure to provide supplemental roof supports, as required by the approved roof control plan, in an area where subnormal roof conditions were encountered.  In addition to the relatively soft drilling and the ping detected by miners on September 15, MSHA investigators identified the following additional ignored indications of subnormal roof conditions:

The existence of a fracture in the roof in the No. 3 entry that extended from the outby end of the fall to and including the second open crosscut from the face.

The presence in the fracture of previously applied rock dust indicated that the fracture had existed for some time.  Nevertheless, this hazardous condition was not mentioned in a report from a preshift examination that was conducted 15 minutes before the accident occurred.

Inadequate torque pressure on some roof bolts that had been installed without header boards just outby the accident area.  Entries exceeding maximum widths stipulated in the approved roof control plan.

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

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