Jan 3, 2006

A great day for the coal miners

UPDATE - 1/04/06, 11:12 A.M.: BARBARian colleague Blogenlust links to an article showing the Sago Mine was cited for 208 alleged safety violations last year. What a tragedy.

UPDATE - 12:39 A.M.: ABC News is now reporting that 11 of the 12 trapped West Virginia miners have died. Phuque. So much for miracles.

Thanks to Earth Sentinel for the heads up. I was going to change the title of this post using that strikethrough thingy, but I don't know how to do it. I guess this title, as it stands, has a touch of bitter irony to it.

My original post appears below.
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According to this article, 12 out of the 13 coal miners in Tallmansville, W. Va. have been found alive. Phew.

A few minutes after word came, the throng, several hundred strong, broke into a chorus of the hymn "How Great Thou Art," in a chilly, night air.

"Miracles happen in West Virginia and today we got one," said Charlotte Weaver, wife of Jack Weaver, one of the men who had been trapped in the mine.

"I got scared a lot of times, but I couldn't give up," she said. "We have an 11-year-old son, and I couldn't go home and tell him, 'Daddy wasn't coming home."'

There were hugs and tears among the crowd outside the Sago Baptist Church near the mine, about 100 miles northeast of Charleston.

Helen Winans, whose son Marshall Winans, is one of those trapped said she believes there was divine intervention.

"The Lord takes care of them," she said.

Okay, okay. Stop groaning at the religious stuff. Sometimes when people face dire situations, they turn to religion. Just give them this moment. Divine intervention or not, it's a great thing that most of the miners survived. The family of the 13th miner whose body was found must surely be devastated.

What is more devastating is this: I remember watching the Today show this morning and Matt Lauer (or someone) interviewing one of the coal miner's daughters (no Loretta Lynn jokes, please). She was saying that her dad had pretty much hated his job and had only been working at that particular mine for six months. And the conditions at this mine were pretty poor - at least that's the impression she gave. She said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that there was a lot more water at this mine, and the company had to give each of the miners a new pair of workboots because of it. I guess that makes things bad. What do I know. I'll be curious to see if there was any negligence on the parent company's part.

I don't know why - despite this article stating safety in mining is on the upswing - coal mining still needs to be done by people. Isn't there a way to automate this process? Regardless of the steep decline in fatalities, mining still looks to me like a very dangerous job. With coal mining specifically, you're dealing with carbon monoxide and explosions caused by a buildup of methane gas. There's honor in every kind of job, but why put yourself at risk?

1 comment:

Earth Sentinel said...

The news reports were wrong. Now the news sites are reporting that only one made it out. There seems to have been quite a few underlying problems, with this mine and the industry as a whole that caused this incident.

The greater tragedy is that we still rely on an incredibly dirty fossil fuel to power our lives, when nuclear is both safer and renewable if used properly.

You can find all my reasons for preferring nuclear, as well as commentary about the Chinese coal situation (6500 deaths per year) at Earth Sentinel where you will also find peak oil, renewable energy, and climate change news.