5 Facts About The Wharton Mine Accident
Two coal miners were killed Monday night while working at the Brody Mine No. 1 in West Virginia. Here are five things to know about the mine and what happened.
The coal mine is near Wharton, West Virginia, about 50 miles south of Charleston, the state capital.
The mine is owned by Patriot Coal, of St. Louis.
A coal burst — a violent failure of a roof, pillar or wall of coal along a passage inside the mine — was responsible for the accident, government and company officials say. Such bursts cause coal to be shot into the mine with enough energy to injure or kill miners, and have been a coal mining hazard for decades.
Last October, the coal mine was one of three in the U.S. designated as a pattern violator by federal regulators, meaning it had repeatedly broken federal health and safety regulations over the past year. During a one-year review period ending March 31 of this year, the mine was cited for 192 safety violations, including 33 for high or reckless disregard for miners' health and safety. There have been a half-dozen six accidents at the mine since January, including one in which a miner's finger was caught in machinery and a portion had to be amputated, Mine Safety and Health Administration records show.
THE COMPANY'S TAKE:
Patriot referred to its last annual report in December, in which it said it was "vigorously contesting" last October's finding by the MSHA. It also said that many of the violations cited in the finding took place under the old owner.