Monday, August 6, 2007

Collapse traps 6 coal miners in Utah

"We're sparing no expense to bring every mining machine that we have in Utah in here that we can get access to quickly so that we can mine to these people," CEO of the mine's parent company said following the collapse early Monday morning.

Now, the company and officials are saying that no expense will be spared, 'no stone will be left unturned' until rescue workers reach the miners, but as the recent tragedies in Minneapolis and the the Sago mine collapse in West Virginia in January of 2006 that left 12 dead reveal: why aren't the companies, and government agencies for that matter, thinking of workers' lives BEFORE catastrophe strikes?

One of the reasons, cited by as well as mine and government officials, for the collapse, was that local seismographs recorded a small 3.9 tremor. However, accodording to the BBC , "the collapse at the Genwal mine at about 0400 (0900 GMT) was so powerful it was mistaken for a small earthquake... Scientists later said a 4.0 magnitude seismic recording was actually caused by the disturbance at the mine, the Associated Press news agency said." Even the US Mine Health and Safety Administration (MHSA) web site has failed to update its homepage, stating that "[a] seismic or ground failure event was registered near the location of the mine this morning."

Though sufficient information is not available at the moment as to the exact cause of the collapse, it should not surprise anyone that substandard safety conditions in the mine and insufficient oversight by the MHSA (aka under funding and insignificant fines to punish violations) played a major role. Once again, a system that places profits above workers' lives rears its ugly head.