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DOL News Release No. 01-327
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Kathy Snyder
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Thursday, September 27, 2001

News Release

MSHA Announces Team to Investigate Fatal Alabama Coal Mine Blast
Investigation Will Begin Immediately

Birmingham, Ala. --Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave Lauriski, speaking today from his agency's district office in Birmingham, Ala., announced the team of agency personnel who will investigate the cause of this week's fatal explosion at Jim Walter Resources No. 5 Mine near Brookwood, Ala.

"We at MSHA feel deep sympathy for the families, friends and co-workers of the miners who lost their lives in this tragic accident," said Lauriski. "We will work diligently to find out the root cause of how it occurred. Our team will conduct an exhaustive investigation and our findings will provide information that the mining community can use to prevent such accidents in the future."

MSHA's investigation into the accident will begin immediately. Team members will examine the accident site, interview mine personnel and examine any mining equipment that may have been involved in the accident. The investigation could take several months to complete, depending on the conditions encountered and the complexity of the evidence that must be pieced together to develop the full picture of how the accident occurred.

Heading the investigation into the Mine No. 5 explosion will be Ray McKinney, manager of the Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA) district office in Norton, Va. Also included on the team will be Bill Crocco, accident investigation program manager from the agency's headquarters office in Arlington, Va.; Kevin Strickland, assistant district manager, New Stanton, Pa.; Stanley Blankenship, supervisory special investigator, Norton, Va.; Kenny Murray, supervisory coal mine inspector, Pikeville, Ky.; Roy Davison, supervisory coal mine inspector, Norton, Va.; Clete Stephan, mining engineer from the agency's technical support division in Triadelphia, W.Va.; John Urosek, ventilation division chief in the technical support division, Triadelphia, W.Va.; and Mark Malecki, attorney, from the Department of Labor's Office of the Solicitor, Division of Mine Safety and Health, Arlington, Va.