Opinion

Problems that led to UBB disaster still out there

An editorial from The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — A scathing report released by the legislative committee on Labor and Worker Safety Issues on the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that took the lives of 29 miners was released in Charleston on Monday.

The comprehensive report brings together the mistakes, the oversights and the outright ignoring of safety rules that should have been in place that fateful day in April 2010.

The Upper Big Branch Mine disaster was “manmade and could have been prevented,” the report says.

“Basic, well-tested and historically proven safety procedures” could have saved the lives of those 29 miners, the report said.

That is nothing new to those of us who knew those miners, or know their families, or who know how Massey Energy operated that mine.

The report includes 11 findings and 52 recommendations, and says Massey Energy could have prevented the explosion.

This is what’s new:

• “Black box technology” must be instituted for mining equipment, the report said. The black boxes should provide information regarding methane, oxygen, carbon monoxide and coal dust levels, the report continued.

• The mine operator should be required to adopt computer-based monitoring of air quality, quantity and flow direction, the report said. The system should not only alert miners and mine operators, but also state and federal regulatory agencies, the report continued.

• Other technology recommendations included memory chips for monitors that read methane, carbon monoxide and coal dust levels, and computerized, real-time electronic personnel recording systems to identify and locate everyone who is underground at any given time, including supervisors…,

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