Coal Tattoo

W.Va. records first coal-mining death of 2013

Yesterday evening’s bad news came from right here in Kanawha County:

One worker was killed and a second one injured Wednesday afternoon at a coal preparation plant in Kanawha County, federal officials said. The incident occurred at Patriot Coal subsidiary Midland Trail Energy’s Five Mile Prep Plant in the Campbells Creek area of Kanawha County, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

UPDATED: The state mine safety office this morning identified the miner who was killed as Brandon E. Townsend, 34, of Delbarton, W.Va. .

Here’s the initial report (not a formal preliminary report) issued late yesterday afternoon by MSHA:

A miner at the Blue Creek Preparation Plant in Kanawha County was killed today when, according to the mine operator, a hydraulic jack exploded on a belt press.  A second miner was injured. MSHA issued a 103j order at 4:38 p.m. to close the plant, and an investigator is en route.

There was some confusion in the reporting (see here and here) about exactly where this accident occurred. But according to MSHA, the mine identification number for the operation where the death happened was 46-09226, and you can look up details about the operation in the agency’s online data system. This preparation plant is part of the Blue Creek mining complex, and was apparently once called the Blue Creek Preparation Plant. It’s now listed as the Five Mile Prep Plant, apparently named after Five Mile Hollow, which is up Campbells Creek from the community of Tad.

This death in Kanawha County is the first fatal coal-mining accident in West Virginia in 2013 and the second in the U.S., with the first coming last month in Kentucky.