Archive | Mining Accidents, Deaths, Cave-Ins and Industrial Disease

Memorial marks 1984 Falconbridge tragedy and all workplace deaths – by Heidi Ulrichsen (Sudbury Northern Life – June 20, 2017)

https://www.sudbury.com/

2015 death of Richard Pigeau at Nickel Rim South especially raw for speakers

On June 20, 1984, a seismic event measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale struck Falconbridge Mine, leading to the deaths of four miners — Sulo Korpela, Richard Chenier, Daniel Lavallee and Wayne St. Michel. Every year since the tragedy, Mine Mill Local 598/Unifor has held a Workers’ Memorial Day gathering on June 20.

This year’s service was held at the union’s campground on Richard Lake, and featured a long list of guest speakers, including politicians, union and company officials and labour community representatives.

Although specifically commemorating the 1984 Falconbridge mining disaster, the event also remembers other workers who have died at the company, which, as a result of several buyouts, now goes by the name Glencore. It also honours the lives of all those who have lost their lives due to on-the-job accidents or industrial disease in Sudbury and around the world. Continue Reading →

Search for Trapped Chile Miners Intensifies as Deadline Looms – by Laura Millan Lombrana (Bloomberg News – June 15, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

The search for two men buried in a Patagonian gold mine may not be attracting the kind of global attention as the miraculous rescue of 33 miners in Chile seven years ago, but it’s no less dramatic. To begin with, time is running out.

Enrique Ojeda and Jorge Sanchez, trapped in the Mandalay Resources Corp.-owned mine since June 9, have an estimated three days of air left. And while the depths are less than the San Jose mine, technically the rescue is more difficult, said Felipe Matthews, a geologist who advised the Chilean Mining Ministry in 2010 and is also working on this search.

The hope is that the two found their way into a refuge after a section of the mine collapsed and tunnels flooded with water from a nearby lagoon. “If I’m here it’s because I have faith that we can achieve a similar miracle than the one we had in San Jose,” Matthews said Thursday in a telephone interview. Continue Reading →

Miner who triggered McIntyre Powder study dies – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – May 30, 2017)

http://www.timminspress.com/

ELLIOT LAKE – A retired miner whose deteriorating health triggered a campaign to investigate the residual effects of McIntyre Powder has died. Jim Hobbs passed away May 24 at the Espanola Nursing Home at the age of 76.

His daughter Janice Martell began an effort to link neurological diseases in former gold and uranium miners to the aluminum dust they were forced inhale by their employers after her father developed Parkinson’s disease.

Hobbs worked at the Quirke II uranium mine in Elliot Lake where the powder was used extensively. Martell’s inability to get workers’ compensation for her father prompted her in 2014 to start up the McIntyre Powder Project, which is a research initiative. Continue Reading →

Ceremony marks 25th anniversary of Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia – by Michael MacDonald (Toronto Star – May 10, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

There were 26 coal miners in the final hours of a four-day shift at the Westray mine in Plymouth, N.S., when a coal seam spit a jet of methane gas that somehow ignited. The explosion killed every man in the mine and tore off the metal roof at the pit entrance.

CANADIAN PRESS – NEW GLASGOW, N.S.—Twenty-five years after she lost her husband to one of Nova Scotia’s worst coal mining disasters, Darlene Dollimont-Svenson still finds it difficult talking about the life they once shared.

“He was a fabulous man, but I don’t know what to say about that because it’s 25 years later and you have all these memories, and one doesn’t really know if the memories are glorified fantasies or reality,” she said, drawing a deep breath and pausing.

Thirty-six-year-old Adonis Dollimont and 25 other miners were in the final hours of a four-day shift at the Westray mine in Plymouth, N.S., when a coal seam spit a jet of methane gas that somehow ignited. Continue Reading →

[Nova Scotia Coal Mining] Westray tragedy to be marked, 25 years later: ‘Pure greed that took lives’ – by Michael MacDonald (Winnipeg Free Press – May 9, 2017)

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/

NEW GLASGOW, N.S. – When the Westray coal mine opened in northern Nova Scotia in 1991, Glenn Martin was lucky enough to land a well-paying job underground that was supposed to last 15 years.

However, he soon learned the mine under Plymouth, N.S., was not a safe place to work. He promised himself he would quit as soon as he had earned enough money to put new siding on his home.

“That mine was a godsend to him,” said his brother, Allen. “He wanted to fix up his house. That was his main goal … But it didn’t take long for him to realize that things were not right.” Continue Reading →

Worker safety still at risk 25 years after Westray tragedy – by Jennifer Wells (Toronto Star – May 6, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

Though tougher laws were passed after the mining disaster, enforcement remains weak.

It was a couple of hours past midnight when Mike Piché walked through the portal to the Westray coal mine. His hard hat didn’t have a head lamp, so it was by flashlight that Piché scanned the surroundings, the sight of cigarette butts, the five-gallon pail lined with a plastic bag and fitted on top with a toilet seat, the coal dust that drifted shin high.

“It’s like stepping in talc,” Piché says of moving through the abundance of black dust that coated the tunnel that April morning, the dust that would explode weeks later, turning the Westray mine into a mortuary for 26 miners, and a permanent sepulchre for 11 of those men.

Piché had been leading an organizing drive for the United Steelworkers that spring 25 years ago. The accounts of production pressures and lax and even nonexistent safety standards at the Nova Scotia mine were legion. He remembers the meeting he had at Roy Feltmate’s place the evening of May 8. Continue Reading →

Miners at disaster site besiege Iranian president’s car (Los Angeles Times – May 7, 2017)

http://www.latimes.com/

ASSOCIATED PRESS – Angry coal miners besieged a car carrying Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday after he visited the site of a deadly mine explosion, a rare protest targeting the nation’s top elected official as he campaigns for reelection.

The miners, some covered in coal soot from searching for fallen comrades still missing in Wednesday’s disaster in Iran’s northern Golestan province, began kicking and banging on the armored SUV carrying Rouhani. Video posted online by the semi-official Fars news agency showed one miner on the SUV’s roof, another jumping up and down and kicking its hood.

“Dear brothers! I beg you wait for a couple of minutes!” someone shouts during the video. Rouhani’s SUV eventually nudges its way through the crowd amid the shouting. Another miner rushes up to kick the back of the vehicle as it speeds away down a hill. Continue Reading →

35 Reported Dead In Iran Mine Explosion; Others Remain Trapped – by Laurel Wamsley (National Public Radio – May 4, 2017)

http://www.npr.org/

An explosion of methane gas collapsed a coal mine in Iran, killing more than 35 people and trapping others underground, according to Iranian state media. Many of those who died had rushed into help miners who were trapped.

Wednesday’s blast was caused when workers tried to jump-start a locomotive, Reuters reports. IRNA, the Islamic Republic News Agency, says that according to Labor Minister Ali Rabiei, the blast occurred when workers changed the battery of the locomotive, creating a spark:

“‘There were some technical difficulties with the batteries in the depth of 700 meters and changing the batteries was carried out inside the tunnel rather than outside of it and that triggered the explosion,’ Rabiei said on Thursday.” Continue Reading →

Death toll in Iran coal mine explosion rises to 35 – by Amir Vahdat (CTV News – May 4, 2017)

http://www.ctvnews.ca/

The Associated Press – TEHRAN, Iran — A coal mine explosion that struck northern Iran killed at least 35 people, semi-official news agencies reported Thursday, as rescuers worked a second day to reach those trapped inside after the blast.

The Fars, Mehr and Tasnim news agencies all carried similar reports Thursday morning. State media did not immediately report on the rise in the death toll in the disaster Wednesday at the Golestan province mine. In a live broadcast by state television, Sadegh Ali Moghadam, the provincial director general of disaster management, said 22 dead bodies had been recovered.

The province will observe three days of mourning after the explosion, Iranian state television reported. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed deep sorrow over the “heartbreaking” and “disastrous” incident at a coal mine in Golestan province, which claimed the lives of a number of workers and entrapped several others, state TV’s website reported Thursday. Continue Reading →

Casualties reported after Iran coal mine explosion (Al Jazeera – May 3, 2017)

http://www.aljazeera.com/

At least 25 people are believed to be trapped in coal mine outside the northern town of Azadshahr, reports say.

A large explosion has struck a coal mine in northern Iran, trapping dozens of miners and killing at least two, according to state media.

Press TV, the English service of Iranian state television, reported that at least two miners had lost their lives and scores of others were wounded in the explosion at the Zemestanyurt mine, about 14km outside the town of Azadshahr.

The blast happened at 12:45pm (09:45 GMT), at a time when workers were changing shifts, according to local media. State news agency IRNA quoted a local official as saying that some of the miners stuck inside may have died. There was confusion about how many might be underground. Continue Reading →

130-years later, historian recounts ‘devastating’ Nanaimo mine explosion – by Ian Holmes (Nanaimo News Now – May 3, 2017)

http://nanaimonewsnow.com/

NANAIMO — The 130th anniversary of a pair of devastating explosions that killed 148 men working in a Nanaimo coal mine is raising memories of the vibrant and extremely dangerous industry. The No. 1 Esplanade Mine, near the current cruise ship terminal, exploded after gas or dust was ignited on May 3, 1887.

The tragedy was the second worst mining disaster in Canada’s history. Vancouver Island coal historian and author T.W. Paterson told NanaimoNewsNOW the tragedy had a massive ripple-effect on Nanaimo, which he said was home to a little more than 2,000 people at that time.

“I liken it to a small nuclear device on a city,” Paterson said. “There would have been not one living soul in Nanaimo at the time who didn’t lose a family member, in-law, workmate or a friend.” Only seven men survived the carnage at the mine, which Paterson said was the largest and longest running operation on Vancouver Island. About 50 of the killed miners were Chinese men who were idenfifed only by numbers. Continue Reading →

Emotional appeals on Day of Mourning – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – April 29, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

With two local industrial deaths in recent months still fresh on the minds of many in attendance, the 2017 Greater Sudbury Day of Mourning ceremonies on Friday took on a sombre mood. Despite that dark cloud, several speakers said educating the next generation of workers is crucial to maintain all of the workplace safety gains that were won over the years.

“Occupational health and safety activists, if you go in to a workplace and clean it up, 90 per cent of the time, the next person who goes in doesn’t know you did it,” United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard, a Greater Sudbury native, told more than 300 people gathered in Laurentian University’s Fraser auditorium. “The world would be a much different place if it wasn’t for people like Janice (Martell-project founder of the McIntyre Powder Project, who spoke earlier) and you.

The work you do saves lives. We have made the workplace better, but as France (Gelinas, Nickel Belt New Democrat MPP) says, we haven’t made them safer. We have an obligation, those of us in the workplace, to pass on our skills and education and core values for a safer workplace, to pass that on to the next generation. The best way to do that is educate them before they enter the workforce.” Continue Reading →

[Industrial Disease] Tracking a toxic powder – by Mary Katherine Keown (Sudbury Star – April 20, 2017)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Administered as an antidote to silicosis, McIntyre Powder has become anything but the miracle cure it was touted to be in its early days.

As part of the Workplace Safety North conference on health and safety in mining, the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers presented findings from clinics they conducted, during which they interviewed current and former miners. They registered 325 miners, all male, all born between 1876 and 1963. They looked at instances of respiratory and neurologic symptoms. Their findings were telling.

“There are a number of important findings related to existing literature,” Dave Wilken, chief operating officer of OHCOW, told the audience. “Those are mainly neurological, respiratory and cardiovascular.” Continue Reading →

Do right by injured miners – Editorial (Toronto Star – April 19, 2017)

https://www.thestar.com/

Ontario miners who were forced to inhale a black aluminum-based substance, who have now developed neurological diseases, must be taken care of. Just contemplating it is sickening: Ontario miners forced to inhale a black aluminum-based substance called McIntyre Powder every time they went on shift.

The powder the miners were forced to breathe in from about 1943 to 1980 was actually developed to reduce the likelihood of them developing lung diseases caused by the high content of carcinogenic silica in gold and uranium mines.

But it turns out what they were inhaling may have made them sick in other ways. New research suggests aluminum is a toxin that can cause neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, if it gets into the bloodstream. Continue Reading →

Blood on the Mountain: Blood on Their Hands – by Michael Berkowitz (Huffington Post – April 18, 2017)

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Mari-Lynn Evans and Jordan Freeman’s “Blood on the Mountains” is a searing indictment of the coal industry’s war on the people of Appalachia. But beyond its story of regional devastation, this stirring documentary is a template of class struggle across America.

Evans and Freeman track the development of the coal industry, nicely framing the main issues and players as they roll out their woeful tale. In the late 19th century, cheap abundant coal fueled the United States’ industrial growth. Because this resource was located in rural areas, nascent coal companies were able to steer development.

They could structure every aspect of the companies’ composition and of their workers lives. Coal barons were able to shape this system in part because of the remoteness of mines from population centers and the failure of corrupt local and weak, remote federal governments. Continue Reading →