Ukraine Coal Mine Explosion Leaves 17 Dead, 9 Missing

Officials say methane gas is to blame for an early-morning coal mine explosion that killed 17 people in the Ukraine on Friday.

The incident occurred at around 2 a.m. local time, when over 250 people were working the night shift about 3,000 feet underground. Nine people are still missing.

The Ukrainian coal mining industry, which employs about 600,000 people, is notorious for poor maintenance and lack of sufficient safety regulations to protect workers. In 2007, a deadly blast at another nearby mine killed over 100 people. The NY Times reports that Ukraine’s mine elevators are made of wooden planks and that the ropes that haul miners down the shafts are often tattered.

The recent incident occurred close on the heels of a transportation elevator collapse last week, which killed two workers and injured eight others. According to the New York Times, Mykhailo Volynets, the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners, has said 70 percent of the equipment in Ukrainian mines is outdated and needs to be replaced.

Critics of the coal mining industry point to incidents such as this as proof that this popular fossil fuel requires too high a price when environment, emissions and worker health are considered.

In 2008, a retention pond at a coal plant in Kingston, Tennessee spilled 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic sludge into the nearby Emory River, a tributary of the Tennessee River, which provides drinking water to millions of people in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

In April 2009, 25 people were killed in an explosion at a Virginia mine operated by Massey Energy, a company specializing in mountain top removal coal mining and infamous for racking up thousands of Clean Water Act and safety violations over the past decade. In 2010, a Massey sludge pond broke in West Virginia, dumping 30,000 gallons of toxic mining byproduct into a nearby river.

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Hafcovac H.
Hafcovac H.4 years ago

It is truly sad that such tragedies still happen in this modern day and age. We are dedicated to designing and manufacturing rock dusters for use in exact situations like this coal mine. There needs to be more awareness that rock dusting inside a mine can prevent explosions and save lives and injuries. There is very little reported on this in the news. Combustible dust is covered with a layer of non-combustible dust to greatly reduce the possibility of a chain reaction explosion underground. The technology is available. It is unfortunate that it is not used in every appropriate mine.

Terry King
Terry King4 years ago

This should serve as a shot across the bows of the folks who are blocking th largrst soiar project [n the US over concerns around relocating desert tortoises.

David K.
David K.4 years ago

Almost all coal explosions are caused by methane or dust. There is no excuse for ragged winder cables. The UK rules used to require that a piece of rope be removed reguularly from the fixing at regular intervals for testing to guards against winder rope fail;ure. Gas removal should be ensured by regular attention to ventilation. A gas explosion in NZ is now being investigated by a royal commission and I fully expect its conclusion will blame inadequate ventilation. Australia requires a minimum of two air and escape shafts for gaseous mines. These are a minimum requirement. UK also requires any electric motors to be Buxton certified flameproof in gaseous mines. The are some of the precautions which will keep explosion deaths of miners to very infrequent happenings and anything less should result in criminal prosecutions.

Vicky Locke
Vicky Locke4 years ago

So sad, and so preventable. It's not just the U.S. that needs to push towards renewable, sustainable energy sources.

Mrs Shakespeare
Mrs Shakespeare4 years ago

As tragic as this is, I like to see it as the beginning of the end for coal, just like the Japanese tsunami got some lawmakers to reconsider nuclear power.
May the souls of the dead rest in eternal peace and happiness, and may the missing be found safe and sound.

Leia P.
Leia P.4 years ago

so incredibly sad

Brian F.
Brian F.4 years ago

We should shut down all coal plants and replace them with cleaner wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, biogas, and biomass plants. Coal produces many toxic emissions including mercury which is in our air, rivers, lakes, oceans, and in the fish we eat.

Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc4 years ago

Yes Coal kills not only people, but also the environment. The sooner we replace it with windmills and solar panels the better. We need to push to maximize the benefits of renewable energy.

Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc4 years ago

Yes Coal kills, not only people, but also the environment. The sooner we replace it with windmills and solar panels the better. We need to push to maximize the benefits of renewable energy.

Suzanne H.
Suzanne H.4 years ago

To my mind, we have only one life to live................No one given a choice would work in a mine...........No one!