September 23, 2001
-- At about 5:45 Central Time last night, Jim Walter Resources Inc.'s No. 5 Mine, near Brookwood, Tuscaloosa County, Ala,. reported to MSHA that a roof fall had occurred at the mine followed by an ignition of methane gas, and that miners were unaccounted for. -- MSHA officials went directly to the mine. They have been at the mine all night and will remain as long as the emergency continues. –- In charge on-site is MSHA District 11 Manager Frank Young. -- MSHA immediately placed a control order on the mine site. Under the control order, all actions taken on-site during the emergency must be evaluated for safety, and approved, by MSHA.. -- We are working with the company and the miners' representatives as they make plans to recover the missing miners while safeguarding the rescue teams that have been looking for them. -- This morning, rescue teams were withdrawn from the mine after they encountered elevated levels of methane gas, which indicate danger of another explosion. -- MSHA's mobile gas analysis laboratory and communications center are arriving at the mine today. –- Once the emergency is over and the mine is made safe for investigators, MSHA will conduct a complete investigation into the accident.
Monday, November 19, 2001Over the weekend, dust samples were collected for analysis in the No. 4 Section from the entrance to the faces. Also, mapping of the area was completed by the investigation team. Last night the entire area was rock dusted. Today, the teams will replace temporary ventilation controls in the No. 4 Section with permanent ones. Another plan is being developed to remove the water and ventilate the eastern part of the mine, which includes the No. 6 Section. Water pumping will start in the area before Thanksgiving, while ventilation work will be delayed until after the holiday.
Tuesday, November 13, 2001Mine recovery work was put on hold over the weekend, once the bodies of the remaining 9 miners were recovered. Work to restart ventilation and exploration resumed this morning. Recovery teams plan to stock material for another set of seals so they can advance further into the Number 4 Section.
Friday, November 9, 2001At approximately 11:50 p.m. CST yesterday evening, the bodies of the remaining nine miners were recovered from the mine.Today the recovery teams are working to reinforce seals that have been built in the area of the explosion and preparing for the next phase, in which they will enter areas of the mine that have not yet been explored. The teams will rest over the weekend, and work will resume Tuesday towards making the entire mine safe for the accident investigation.
Thursday, November 8, 2001The recovery teams started exploration of the Number 4 section during yesterday's evening shift. After exploring about 500 feet into the section, they found the remaining nine miners, all of whom were located in one general area. The work to repair the ventilation controls and erecting temporary seals must be done before the miners' bodies can be removed from the mine.
Wednesday, November 7, 2001Rock dusting of the area near the entrance to the Number 4 Section that started yesterday will continue today. Advancement into the Number 4 Section will not begin until the rock-dusting phase is complete.Positive identification of two of the three bodies recovered last Saturday has been made.
Tuesday, November 6, 2001Yesterday, recovery teams reinforced temporary seals near the entrance to the Number 4 Section and removed damaged haulage equipment. The teams also mapped the area and collected dust samples for analysis. Today, the teams will apply rock dust to this same area and examine water pumps. If rock dusting is completed today, they will advance toward the face of the Number 4 Section. Each of the four tunnels will be explored, starting at the entrance area and proceeding toward the faces for a distance of about 500ft. Once this exploration phase is complete, new seals will be erected and the explored area will be ventilated with fresh air.
Monday, November 5, 2001The three bodies that were located last Thursday were removed from the mine on Saturday around 2 p.m. The bodies were taken to the Tuscaloosa County Morgue for identification. After the bodies were removed from the mine, the accident investigation team examined the area. Recovery work resumed and consisted of reinforcing seals near the entrance to the Number 4 Section and repairing track. As the track is repaired, haulage equipment will be used to advance men and material further into the Number 4 Section. Today, the teams will continue work to repair track and further reinforce the seals.
Friday, November 2, 2001A mine rescue team located three bodies last night near the entrance to the Number 4 Section. The location of the bodies was recorded and the bodies were covered. The rescue teams are continuing to build seals around the area, and will be ventilating this same area with fresh air. Removal of the bodies from the mine will depend on the length of time it takes to build the new seals and ventilate the area. The names of the victims have not been released at this time.
Thursday, November 1, 2001Exploration work had to be discontinued temporarily last night due to high concentrations of methane gas on the fresh air side of the temporary seals. Adjustments were made to the blower fan located at the end of the number 4 section, and additional sealing material was installed on and around the last set of temporary seals to provide a better seal between the two environments. When the methane level dropped to a safe level, exploration resumed. The two rescue team members who left the mine yesterday from heat exhaustion returned to work last night. Plans today include constructing new seals in the area explored last night and ventilating that area with fresh air to allow the team to advance further into the mine. None of the explosion victims’ bodies have yet been found.
Wednesday, October 31, 2001The rescue and recovery teams continued their work yesterday and last night rebuilding ventilation controls and pumping water from the mine. The work is especially difficult because the teams are wearing self-contained breathing devices while exploring and building seals. The area where the teams are working is very warm due to lack of ventilation behind the seals, the excessive depth of the coal seam, and the warm climate in Alabama. Team members are rotated hourly due to the excessive heat. Two team members were removed from the mine last night due to heat exhaustion. One was taken to a local hospital for treatment, while the second member required no additional treatment. Both members were reported to be in good condition this morning.
Tuesday, October 30, 2001As the rescue and recovery teams advanced behind the temporary seals, they discovered that most of the ventilation controls had been knocked down by the explosion. Therefore, most of the night was spent rebuilding the damaged controls. The methane content behind the seals is around 80 percent, and less than 2 percent on the fresh air side of the last set of seals. The water level was at the 537 feet at 7 a.m. this morning, and continues to drop. Today’s plan is to build air lock doors in the last set of temporary seals, which is located in the number 1 entry at the mouth of the number 4 section. Although no bodies have yet been found, the teams have advanced to the area where some of the miners were working at the time of the explosion.
Monday, October 29, 2001Mine rescue and recovery work continued on all three shifts over the weekend. The recovery teams advanced into the underground mine along with the receding water level. Water continues to be pumped from the mine at a rate of 1,000 gallons per minute. A third set of seals is expected to be completed today. The methane gas concentration behind the temporary seals is running around 70 percent, and less than 2 percent on the fresh air side of the seals. The third set of seals will be located across six different entries approximately 500 feet from the mouth of the number 4 section.
Friday, October 26, 2001Last night, all four seals were completed for the second set of temporary seals. The water is being pumped from the area at a rate of 900 gallons per minute. According to engineering estimates, the water level should be low enough to start the third set of seals on Sunday. Today, work will be done to increase the amount of air exhausted from a borehole located at the back end of the Number 4 Section. This work is necessary to control the concentration of methane gas between the first set of temporary seals and the second set of seals.
Thursday, October 25, 2001Mine rescue teams entered the mine around 5 p.m. last evening to install the next set of temporary seals. Since the air contained 7.5 percent oxygen and 54 percent methane, the team members were wearing self-contained breathing devices. Two of the planned four seals were completed by 5 a.m. this morning. Water continues to be pumped from the mine and the teams will continue advancing toward the number four section as the water level underground drops.
Wednesday, October 24, 2001Mine rescue teams pumped water from the area behind the temporary seals and the track haulage area near the elevator shaft through last evening.Today's plan is to continue pumping water from these two locations.
Tuesday, October 23, 2001Mine rescue teams completed repair of damaged ventilation controls Friday evening. Saturday morning, the process of pumping water out of the mine began, at a rate of approximately 900 gallons per minute. Monday evening, an additional water pump was installed to assist with the water removal process.
Thursday, October 18, 2001Mine rescue teams completed rock dusting last evening. A battery charger was set up underground to recharge battery scoop cars, which will be used to transport supplies and tools to the areas where repair work is being done on damaged ventilation controls. Methane gas levels behind the temporary seals remained in a safe range.
Wednesday, October 17, 2001The mine recovery teams were pulled from the mine last evening for several hours because of unsafe methane gas levels. The problem was attributed to leaking temporary seals near the toe of the water. Once the seals were repaired and the air mixture behind the seals had returned to a safe level, the teams resumed their work of rock dusting. When the rock dusting phase is complete, work on repairing damaged ventilation controls will begin.
Monday, October 15, 2001Mine recovery work continued over the weekend, except for a brief period when a severe storm passed through Birmingham. Officials were concerned that the mine might lose electrical power, which could affect the mine’s ventilation. All of the seals have been completed to separate the abandoned panels from the rest of the mine. On Saturday, MSHA’s accident investigation team entered the mine to collect rock dust samples and map the area of the mine that has been explored. Dave Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, will hold a press conference this afternoon at the Birmingham district office to report on recovery progress thus far and introduce the team leader in the investigation.
Friday, October 12, 2001All of the 14 seals have been installed in the abandoned longwall panels of the mine. Now that sealing from the rest of the mine is completed, MSHA's accident investigation team can enter the mine to record damages to the ventilation controls from the explosion. This recording needs to be complete prior to repair of the damaged ventilation controls.
Thursday, October 11, 2001The rescue teams have removed the remaining mining equipment from the G longwall panel and sealing of that panel has begun. Of the 14 seals scheduled to be built in the abandoned F and G panels, five have been completed and the remaining nine have been started. A decision was made yesterday for the recovery teams to make shift changes underground rather than on the surface to speed up the recovery process, and to avoid shutting down the material pumping process for the seals.
Tuesday, October 9, 2001Mine recovery work continued around the clock throughout the weekend. Mine rescue teams moved through areas previously unexplored and ventilated those areas of the mine where necessary. The teams advanced to the face of the longwall and increased ventilation to the area to remove high levels of explosive methane gas. Once the gas was removed, work began to seal off the two abandoned longwall panels from the rest of the mine. The teams will build 14 seals in this area. This process should take approximately three to four days to complete. Water is being removed in the track entry leading into the H panel longwall, which will enable track-mounted equipment to transport men and material to the area where sealing work is being conducted.
Friday, October 5, 2001Last evening around 7:30 p.m., the mine rescue teams were pulled from the underground workings because of large amounts of methane gas in the longwall section of the mine. Currently, a plan is being developed that will address this high concentration of methane gas. The rescue teams will remain on the surface until the new plan is ready to be implemented.
Thursday, October 4, 2001The mine rescue teams encountered two areas of heavy methane accumulation. They have spent the entire day repairing the ventilation controls in an effort to deplete these areas of methane gas buildup.
Wednesday, October 3, 2001The rescue teams encountered a small amount of water this afternoon (approximately 12 to 16 inches deep). They are in the process of pumping that water out, but this activity is not expected to hamper their ongoing exploration of the mine. The teams expect to reach the shoreline of the water seal sometime this evening.
Tuesday, October 2, 2001Mine Rescue teams re-entered the mine at 6 a.m. Central time. Within that area, they encountered an accumulation of water 4 feet deep. (This area is approximately 4 miles from the site of the explosion.) Working in shifts, the teams began installing several pumps to remove the water. At 3:20 p.m., they installed an additional pump to expedite the process.
Monday, October 1, 2001Flooding at the mine has reached its targeted level and created a water seal that separates the accident area from the rest of the mine. An estimated total of 33.5 million gallons of water has been pumped into the mine. The borehole drilled into the face area of the mine's No. 4 section has been completed. MSHA continues to monitor atmosphere samples. Working with input and assistance from MSHA, the state of Alabama and the United Mine Workers, the operator has developed a plan to re-enter the mine, re-establish ventilation controls and examine unflooded areas of the mine. Re-entry into the mine is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. Several mine rescue teams, along with MSHA personnel, will work in rotation.
Friday, September 28, 2001Mine Status Report, September 28, 2001 Pumps are being used to fill the accident area with water to extinguish the fire. Additional water is expected to raise the water level to the target 550 ft. level by Saturday. A borehole also is being drilled to intersect the No. 4 section. This borehole has been developed to a depth of 1880 feet. Approximately 200 feet remain to complete drilling of the sampling hole. A second hole, previously existing, will also be used for gas sampling. These two holes, together with sampling at the mine fan, will permit an assessment of underground conditions. Once the target water level is achieved and gas-sampling points are established on both sides of the accident scene, a monitoring period will begin.
Tuesday, September 25, 2001Jim Walter Resources confirmed today that two underground explosions and a fire on Sunday resulted in 13 fatalities. By about 6:30 am on Monday, conditions in the mine made additional underground rescue efforts impossible due to fires, elevated methane and carbon monoxide. In a joint decision by the four parties involved in the recovery effort (Jim Walter Resources, the UMWA, the State of Alabama, and MSHA), water is being pumped into the area to extinguish fires. As of Tuesday afternoon, approximately 3.9 million gallons have been pumped into the area at a rate of about 4,300 gallons per minute. MSHA's mobile gas analysis van is on-site. The agency is collecting and analyzing air samples from the mine to determine the concentrations of methane, carbon monoxide, and other gases. The concentrations of gases indicate the conditions present within the mine. The analysis of mine gases will indicate when a reentry would be safe. The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Dave Lauriski, visited the mine today. He offered his condolences and pledged that MSHA will continue to offer technical assistance as long as necessary. Mr. Lauriski met with officials representing the State, UMWA, and Jim Walter Resources to discuss the next steps.