The Upper Big Branch (UBB) Mine disaster occurred on April 5, 2010 roughly 1,000 feet (300 m) underground in Raleigh County, West Virginia at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine located in Montcoal. In this incident 29 out of 31 miners working there were killed which is the biggest disaster that has happened since the incident at Finley coal Company where 38 miners died in 1970. At first, they can recover 25 dead bodies in a span of 4 days and it was very difficult as the place was completely filled with carbon monoxide and they had to drill through the mines to release the toxic gases in order to continue the search. They completely recovered 29 bodies by the end of 7 days and identified all those who were dead in the blast.
The Massy Energy was fined a total of $328000 in 2009 for the lack of safety and security measures in the mine including the lack of ventilation and proper equipment plans. Even the day before the incident happened the company received two safety violations. So, it is mainly the negligence of the company towards the mine’s safety and security measures. The disaster could have been prevented if the company is keener and more incorporated with the safety measures.
According to various reports from West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training and MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) the explosion actually began mainly after the gas, mainly methane, was ignited. The longwall’s shear likely sparked when a piece of sandstone hit it and ignited a spark and the methane gas got and the fire got spread. It is deemed more likely that the longwall mining machine (shearer) ignited the methane. The methane gas was leaked through the gaps on the side walls of the mine and when the sandstone strike to ignite spark the fire started and as said in the state report it erupted into a huge fire and blast happened when the fire hit the coal dust which is accumulated there in the mines which is not neutralized. Even the ventilation is one of the reasons for this to happen if the ventilation is checked and maintained there would be air flow in the mine which would suck out all the methane gas from the mine and it would have prevented the explosion.
Even the MSHA is also responsible for the cause of this accident because they did not take serious action or provide enough guidelines to the Massey Company even though they found all the violations in the mine. Whereas another report states that Massey used its power “to attempt to control West Virginia's political system.” The report cites how politicians were afraid of the company because it “was willing to spend vast amounts of money to influence elections. (Damon A).
These are the following lines of defense that would have prevented the explosion in the mine. Adequate ventilation would have helped to suck out the methane gas. There should be sensors placed and should be monitored regularly to detect any explosive gases such as methane. Coal dust is one of the main reasons the ignition happened as it acted as the fuel to the fire and these kind of ignition sources must be removed. So, a cleanup of fine coal dust accumulations and rock dusting should be done regularly and should always be monitored. All these defense mechanisms failed at UBB.
Additional defenses should be provided in case there is an explosion. Explosion barriers have been studied for years and have been found to be effective in stopping an explosion. Additional training must be conducted to assure that the operators and those entrusted by the operator to make the required safety exams in the mines be adequately trained in the performance of their duties.
So, in this case the accident would not have happened if the company and all the people responsible for the maintenance and the safety officers have done their job perfectly.
Write a report on it.