The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 73/No. 49      December 21, 2009

2 miners die on the job
in Alabama, Kentucky
Low oxygen levels led to the death of an underground coal miner November 23 at the Jim Walter Resources Mine No. 7 in Brookwood, Alabama. That same day another miner was killed in a crane accident at a surface mine in Perry County, Kentucky.

Miner James Chaney, 53, of Berry, Alabama, died of heat exhaustion that was probably caused by lack of oxygen, according to Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) spokeswoman Amy Louviere. He and another miner, Milton Etheridge, 59, both collapsed as they were inspecting a section of the large Jim Walter No. 7 mine. Chaney died at the scene. Etheridge was rushed to a local hospital and survived.

This death “is something that could have been prevented, I’m sure,” James Blankenship, president of United Mine Workers of America Local 2245, told the Tuscaloosa News. “We’ve argued for the last eight years about how MSHA’s lack of enforcement has led to more mine fatalities. This is just another case of it.”

Eight miners who tried to rescue Chaney and Etheridge also ended up in hospitals, reported the News. “It took several hours for the men to emerge from the mine that day because of the conditions in the underground area,” the paper reported.

The No. 7 mine employs more than 700 people and produced 2.85 million tons of coal in 2008. It is one of several mines owned by Jim Walter Resources in Alabama. Over the years the company has had a poor record on maintaining workplace safety according to records of government inspectors. According to MSHA, the No. 7 mine has been cited for 41 violations so far this year with 34 operator injuries, reported Fox News. In September 2001, two explosions at its Blue Creek Mine No. 5 killed 13 miners.

In Kentucky, miner Leslie Trent, 37, was killed at TECO Energy’s Upper Second Creek portal when a hoist boom fell during construction of a new mine shaft. A second miner was injured. Both were contract workers employed by Frontier-Kemper Constructors. That same company was cited by MSHA in an August 2007 shaft accident that killed three people at a coal mine in Gibson County, Indiana.

Sixteen workers have been killed in coal mines in 2009 according to MSHA. Last year 30 lost their lives.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home