Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (202) 693-9425
Released Thursday, August 1, 2002
MSHA Begins Quecreek Investigation, Review of Maps
New Stanton, Pa. - The U. S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has begun its investigation of the underground flood that trapped nine miners who were rescued last weekend from the Quecreek mine. At the same time the agency is starting a national project to identify old mines, along with reviews of mine maps, technological innovations, and regulations and practices designed to prevent these incidents, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave D. Lauriski said.
"Our investigation will determine the root cause of the Quecreek accident," Lauriski said. "The purpose of the investigation, along with the other steps we are taking, is to find ways to prevent a recurrence. We're going all-out to keep this from happening elsewhere."
Lauriski said MSHA's Quecreek investigation team will be led by Pat Brady, District Manager of the agency's District 4 office in Mt. Hope, W.Va. Also included in the nine-member team are engineers and other mine safety and health specialists from MSHA's headquarters as well as the agency's district offices throughout the country, its Pittsburgh Technical Support Center, and its mining equipment approval center in Triadelphia, W.Va.
"Team members will contribute expertise in a range of mine safety specialties in order to assemble a complete picture of what took place," Lauriski said.
Lauriski said that in addition MSHA will:
- Establish a task force to review the availability, accuracy and quality of old mine maps;
- Hold a technical symposium with representatives from academia, mine operators, and manufacturers on methods to accurately identify the extent and perimeter of closed mining operations; and
- Review existing Federal mine safety standards and practices designed to prevent mine inundations.
MSHA accident investigators will closely examine Quecreek mine records and maps, interview individuals who may have information relevant to the cause of the accident, and collect and review applicable physical evidence. After reviewing all of the information collected, the MSHA team will prepare a detailed report that will be made available to the mining industry and the public.
Lauriski thanked the MSHA employees who participated in the rescue as well as others including Pennsylvania agencies, Black Wolf Coal Company personnel, and the numerous private and nonprofit organizations that provided equipment, services, and support to the rescuers and families. In line with past practice, MSHA investigators will work cooperatively with and share information with investigators from the Pennsylvania Department of Deep Mine Safety, which also is investigating the accident.