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MSHA News Release No. 98-0630
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

National Competition in Las Vegas Prepares Mine Rescue Teams for Future Emergencies

Imagine devoting hundreds of hours of your time training for an event that may never happen. That's exactly what the men and women on our nation's mine rescue teams do -- rigorously practice for a mine emergency they hope will never require their specialized skills.

A simulated mine disaster may involve miners trapped underground as a result of an explosion, fire or roof cave-in. Whatever the scenario, mine rescue teams know that advanced preparation and training will only increase their chances of rescuing their missing and injured comrades.

One of the best vehicles for mine rescue training is competition. On July 8 and 9, 41 of the nation's top mine rescue teams -- including eight from Nevada -- will compete in the 1998 National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest. The event takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center and is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Mine rescue contests are designed to sharpen skills and test the knowledge of miners who may one day be called upon to respond to a real mine emergency. The contest requires six-member teams to solve a hypothetical problem while being timed and observed by judges according to precise rules.

The contest is designed to test miners' knowledge of poisonous gases, low oxygen levels, unstable roofs and walls, and first aid. They are required to wear breathing apparatuses, carry maps, use their gas detectors, and maintain constant contact with a mine official above ground. (July 8, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.)

In the bench competition, benchmen -- those individuals charged with maintaining rescue equipment -- must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with, and they must correct those defects as quickly as possible. (July 9, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.)

"Mine rescue contests are invaluable training exercises that enable both new and veteran teams to solve an elaborate problem when miners' lives are not on the line," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "These men and women are truly a special breed of people, often practicing on their own time, and always ready to respond at a moment's notice to save the lives of people they may not even know."

Beginning this year, MSHA will honor seven individuals who, through their accomplishments and commitment, are regarded as exceptional in the field of mine rescue. "Everyone in the mine rescue community deserves respect for his or her sacrifice and dedication," said McAteer. "Some individuals, however, stand out for their lifetime achievements and commitment to this unique, challenging field."

The individuals nominated for induction into the Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Hall of Fame will be honored Thursday evening at the contest awards banquet. They are:

Harry Hall Anderson
Mr. Anderson was a leader in efforts to upgrade the safety program at International Salt Company's Avery Island Mine in Louisiana following the disastrous fire at Cargill Salt's Belle Isle Mine in March 1968. He became active in mine rescue, serving as one of Avery Island's first mine rescue team captains, and his team won the first metal and nonmetal mine rescue contest ever held in the United States. Following another disaster at the Belle Isle Mine in June 1979, Mr. Anderson played a leading role in rescue efforts, and safely coordinated the recovery of five miners' bodies. In May 1986, the Southern Mine Rescue Association honored him for his foresight, dedication, and leadership in organizing mine rescue teams in Louisiana. Mr. Anderson continues to support mine rescue today as Plant Manager of the Avery Island Mine.

Leo M. Bradshaw
As a miner and mine rescue team member with advanced training, Mr. Bradshaw fought several underground fires in the Grants, N.M., region during the late 1950s and early 1960s. These experiences alerted him to the dangers inherent in mine rescue and the need for well-trained rescue teams. He also noticed that teams that entered contests seemed better prepared to tackle mine emergencies. Mr. Bradshaw became very active in organizing the national contest for metal and nonmetal mines. He accepted a position as safety manager for Cominco American in Bixby, Mo., and led the company's Magmont Mine team to victory in both the single- and multi-level competitions at the first National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest in Salt Lake City, Utah. Until his retirement in the late 1980s, Mr. Bradshaw served as an active member of the National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Advisory Committee.

James Chailland
Mr. Chailland began his mine rescue career at Stauffer Chemical Company (now OCI Wyoming, L.P.), Big Island Mine, in 1963, serving as a team member until 1970, when he was promoted to a management position. From 1970 to 1990 he was responsible for training mine rescue teams that won national contests in 1975, 1982 and 1986. He was a charter member and active participant in the National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest Committee and the Southwestern Wyoming Mutual Aid Association, and was a founding member of the Mutual Aid Association, serving two terms as president. Perhaps Mr. Chailland's proudest accomplishment as the mine operations superintendent was seeing the Big Island Mine win the Sentinels of Safety Competition for being the safest underground nonmetal mine in the United States in 1987.

Harold David James "Buster" Mosele (Posthumous)
As the personnel manager and safety director for International Salt Company's Avery Island Mine in Louisiana, Mr. Mosele initiated and administered a thorough upgrading of the mine's safety program following the disastrous fire at Cargill Salt's Belle Isle Mine in March 1968. What followed was the formation of International Salt's first mine rescue team in August 1969. Mr. Mosele was a founder and instrumental member of the Southern Mine Rescue Association which, one year later, sponsored the first metal and nonmetal mine rescue contest ever held in the U.S. Mr. Mosele remained a dedicated advocate and promoter of mine rescue until his death in 1976.

Thomas Overy, Jr. (Posthumous)
Mr. Overy began working in underground coal mines near Rock Springs, Wyo., when he was 16. He served as a member of Union Pacific Coal Company's mine rescue team for more than 30 years, participating in rescue operations at mines in Hanna and Cumberland, Wyo., and competing in several local contests. After becoming a mine superintendent, he directed rescue operations during a disaster at a Stansbury, Wyo., coal mine. In 1970, Mr. Overy was appointed deputy state mine inspector of Wyoming. After obtaining the governor's support, he helped form the Southwestern Wyoming Mutual Aid Association, which held its first contest in 1973. Mr. Overy helped set up the first National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest in 1976. He remained active as a member of the Southwestern Wyoming Mutual Aid Association until his death in 1991.

J. D. Pitts
In a mining and government career spanning nearly 40 years, Mr. Pitts played a leading role in shaping the metal and nonmetal mining industry's ability to respond to mine emergencies. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was a member, trainer and supervisor of mine rescue teams at several Arizona copper mines. Shortly after joining the U.S. Bureau of Mines, Mr. Pitts participated in rescue and recovery efforts of 91 bodies at the Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho, in May 1972. For his courageous efforts in the rescue of two miners trapped by the fire, Mr. Pitts received the U.S. Department of the Interior's Valor Award. In 1974, he took charge of Metal and Nonmetal's National Mine Rescue Readiness Program, becoming a highly visible advocate and promoter of mine rescue contests as an incentive to increase team practice time and improve training quality. In 1975, he co-chaired a meeting to establish a National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest separate from coal. Mr. Pitts subsequently designed the problems for every National Contest held between 1976 and 1994. To provide advice and assistance in rulemaking and in the conduct of contests throughout the country, Mr. Pitts formed the National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Advisory Committee, a group that he chaired from 1976-1992. Mr. Pitts retired from MSHA in January 1996.

Jack L. Squires
Mr. Squires began his mine rescue career as a member of Texas Gulf's Moab, Utah, team in 1964, eventually serving on every team position. He joined Stauffer Chemical Company in Green River, Wyo., (now OCI Wyoming, L.P.) in 1972. Since then, he has provided unwavering leadership as the key trainer and advisor to teams that have won multiple championships at the National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest. Teams trained by Mr. Squires have responded expertly to three different mine disasters, the most recent at a Wyoming trona mine in 1995. He has been at the forefront of efforts to develop realistic mock disasters and other training exercises both locally and nationally and is currently a member of the National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Advisory Committee.

Participating Teams

Central Mine Rescue, Silver Valley Resources (Wallace)

Dravo Lime Company, Maysville Mine (Maysville)

Cargill Salt, Avery Island Mine (Avery Island)
IMC Global Salt, Cote Blanche Mine (Lydia)
Morton Salt Company, Weeks Island Mine (New Iberia)

ASARCO, Inc., West Fork Unit (Bunker)
ASARCO, Inc., Sweetwater Unit (Reynolds)
The Doe Run Company, Doe Run Mine (Virburnum)
Mining Engineering Department, University of Missouri (Rolla)

Stillwater Mining Co., Stillwater Mine (Nye)

Barrick Bullfrog, Inc., Bullfrog Mine (Beatty)
Barrick Goldstrike, Meikle Mine (Elko) (2 teams)
Bechtel Nevada (Las Vegas)
Getchell Gold Corporation, FMC General Getchell Mine (Golconda)
Independence Mining Company, Inc., C.E. Mine (Elko)
KIEWIT/PB, Yucca Montain Mine (Las Vegas, NV)
Newmont Gold Company, Carlin Underground Mine (Carlin)

IMC Kallium, Carlsbad Mine (Carlsbad)
Newmont Gold Company, Carlin Underground Mine (Carlin)
Mississippi Potash, Inc., Mississippi Potash West (Carlsbad) (2 teams)
Molycorp, Inc.-UNOCAL 76, Questa Mine (Questa)
Western AG - Minerals, Nash Draw Mine (Carlsbad)
Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (Carlsbad) (2 teams)

Zinc Corporation of America, No. 4 Mine (Hailesboro)

Cargill, Inc., Cleveland Mine (Cleveland ) (2 teams)
Morton International, Morton Salt Fairport Mine (Grand River)

Morton International, Grand Saline Mine (Grand Saline)
United Salt Corporation, Hockley Salt Mine (Hockley)

FMC Corporation, FMC Green River Mine (Green River) (2 teams)
General Chemical Soda Ash Partners, FMC Gen. Chem. Mine (Green River) (2 teams)
OCI of WY L.P., Big Island Mine and Refinery (Green River) (2 teams)
Solvay Minerals, Inc., Solvay Minerals Mine (Green River) (2 teams)
Tg Soda Ash, Wyoming Soda Ash Operations (Granger) (2 teams)