Another W.Va. coal miner dies on the job

November 30, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

The bad news this morning comes from Greenbrier County, W.Va., where a 27-year-old coal miner was killed on the job. The accident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. today at White Buck Coal Co.’s Pocahontas Mine near Rupert. This is a former Massey Energy operation now controlled by Alpha Natural Resources.

According to state officials, the miner was caught between a scoop and the continuous mining machine — a type of accident that is becoming all too common in the coal-mining industry. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for the Obama administration to move on two regulatory proposals that would help prevent these sorts of fatal accidents.

UPDATED: State officials have identified the miner who was killed as Steve O’Dell of Mt. Nebo. He had three years of mining experience and was a certified electricial.

UPDATED 2: The obituary for Mr. O’Dell appeared in Monday’s Gazette and is online here. I call your attention especially to this part:

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions should be made to a trust fund to be established at BB&T Bank, 815 Northside Drive, Summersville, WV 26651, for their first expected child, due in December.

It’s also interesting to note that the White Buck mines were cited earlier this week by federal prosecutors when they brought new charges against a former Massey executive who is cooperating in their investigation of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. Five years ago, White Buck and two of its employees were prosecuted for criminal mine safety violations, but federal officials at the time said the problems went no higher into the Massey organization. Now, prosecutors allege there was a broad conspiracy at White Buck and other Massey mines between 2000 and 2010 to violate mine safety regulations and cover up the resulting hazards to workers.

There was previously a fatal accident at the White Buck Pocahontas Mine in July 2010.

This is the 18th U.S. coal-mining death in 2012, and the 6th in West Virginia — with half of those West Virginia deaths occurring at Alpha Natural Resources operations (see here and here for reports on the two previous Alpha deaths).

UPDATED: We’re also reporting on the Gazette website that three miners have been hurt in an impoundment accident at CONSOL Energy’s Robinson Run operation in Harrison County.

4 Responses to “Another W.Va. coal miner dies on the job”

  1. How about a little more compassion for the miner, Steve Odell that passed away, his family left behind, their loss. How about the other miner(s) involved. Surely their lives are now a mess over this situation.

    Why bring up Massey’s prior involvement here? This accident had nothing to do with Massey or Alpha. It was an awful accident. A little more sensitivity to the grieving families is in order here. God help them as only He can at a time like this. May the good people who read this article lift these families up in prayer.

  2. I hope the Senator Rockefeller will (1) contact Labor Secretary Solis and ask for a FIRM date when MSHA will be issuing its final rule on proximity detection devices on continuous mining machines. The public comment period on the proposal ended more than 1 year ago; and (2) contact the White House and urge it to release a proposed rule regarding proximity detection devices for other types of underground equipment. That proposal has been collecting dust for 450 days at the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The consequence of the Administration’s excessive delays is miners’ lives.

  3. davey vest says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Steve O’dell.
    Too often, our comments against coal mining practices forget to include our appreciation of coal miners, who are good men and women who work hard at a dangerous job to feed their families.

  4. Dustin White says:

    How many more have to die for coal?

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