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Mine Disasters in
the United States


Consolidation Coal Company
Blacksville No. 1 Mine
Shaft Explosion

Blacksville, Monongalia County, West Virginia
March 19, 1992
No. Killed - 4



See also:   Blacksville No. 1 Mine Fire, July 22, 1972


To prepare the Blacksville No. 1 Mine for a shutdown, the operation's production shaft was capped on March 13, 1992.  This operation reduced the amount of intake air entering the shaft.

On March 17 workers began to install a 16-inch casing through an opening in the cap covering the production shaft.  This casing, which would be needed in the future for dewatering, was designed to extend the entire 800 foot length of the production shaft.

Procedures undertaken during the installation of the casing further restricted airflow, allowing an explosive methane-air mixture to accumulate beneath the cap.  At about 10:18 a.m. on March 19 the methane-air mixture was ignited by sparks or electric arcs produced by arc welding conducted on top of the cap.  The resulting explosion killed four workers and seriously injured two others. MSHA investigators attributed the disaster to:
  • Violations of approved ventilation and methane and dust control plans that resulted from changes made to the ventilation system during the installation of the cap and casing and a failure to evaluate these changes.

  • Failure to maintain the volume and velocity of air in sufficient amounts to render harmless and carry away explosive gases.

  • Failure to conduct methane examinations at the capped production shaft.
Source:
Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume II

  



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