Mine disaster drills address safety, family and media
October 10, 2007 4:23 PM
HOLMES MILL, Ky.
Rescue drills have always been a practice of U.S. coal companies.But high-profile mine disasters over the past two years have forced the industry to practice something else: dealing with victims' families and the media.
That was part of the focus of a mock disaster drill today at Lone Mountain Processing Company's Clover Fork Mine in Holmes Mill, Kentucky.
Nearly 100 federal and state officials, miners and other personnel role-played not only as first-responders and investigators, but also as reporters and panicked family members.
Company President and General Manager Thurmond Holcomb says the drill was in response to recent disasters.
The mock disaster took place less than a mile from the Kentucky Darby Mine, which lost five men to a May 2006 underground explosion.
Those deaths, plus the 12 at West Virginia's Sago Mine last year and the recent cave-in that killed six more in Utah, drew criticism about how victims' relatives were treated. Mine companies also took hits for how information was released to the public.