1) Two miners were trapped and died at the Brody Mine #1 in Boone County, West Virginia on Monday. The mine was designated as a pattern violator by the MSHA, meaning it had repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations in the previous year. The mine was being prepared for abandonment and the workers were engaged in the dangerous practice of removing the supporting pillars, usually 60 - 80 square feet, which are the last coal in the section of the mine. The company said that the miners died in a "severe coal burst" - which basically means that the weight from the roof got shifted to pillars that were too weak to support it, resulting in a catastrophic collapse. You can read more at the New York Times.
|Photo from the NY Times (Source)|
2) Of course, this pales in comparison to what happened in Soma, Turkey, where more than 250 people were killed in a coal mine explosion. The explosion occurred during a subsurface shift change when more than 700 workers were underground. The explosion started a fire that cut off electricity to the mine, rendering the elevator useless and trapping hundreds of miners approximately a mile beneath the surface. As of now, they are still pulling out bodies so the death count will continue to climb. Roughly 450 miners were rescued, but about 150 others miners are still unaccounted for. As far as I can tell the majority of the deaths have been due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
|Photo from Ruters via (Source)|
3) They still don't know what caused the radiation release at the WIPP site, but they confirmed last week they "discovered that some of the large magnesium oxide bags that are placed on top of waste disposal containers during disposal were damaged. The magnesium oxide in the 3,000 - 4,200 pound bags acts as a barrier, helping to prevent the radioactive material from being releasing into the environment"