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DOL/MSHA News Release No. III-03-01-24-007-SP
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Rodney Brown
Phone: (202) 693-9400

Released Friday, January 24, 2003

MSHA Announces Team to Investigate Fatal Shaft Explosion

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced the team of agency personnel who will investigate the cause of this week's fatal shaft explosion at the Mc Elroy Mine in Marshall County, W.Va. Three miners died and three miners were injured in the blast.

"I have directed the investigation team to identify all the root causes of the explosion. We will analyze what caused this tragedy and we also want to use the information to prevent similar situations in the future," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave D. Lauriski. "We will use all the tools provided in federal mine safety and health law - enforcement, education and training, and technical assistance - to enhance safety for all miners."

The MSHA team investigating the shaft explosion has expertise in a variety of specialties. Heading the investigation team is James Oakes, manager of MSHA's District 8 office in Vincennes, Ind.

Other team members are:

"Our hearts go out to the families of the miners who lost their lives in the explosion, and to those miners who were injured," Lauriski said. "They will be the first to be informed of our findings once the investigation is completed. Then we also will share the results of the investigation with miners and mine operators throughout the nation. Our goal is to instill safety as a value throughout the mining industry and make sure every miner comes home safely at the end of every working shift."

MSHA's investigation into the Mc Elroy shaft explosion began yesterday. Team members will examine the accident site, review mine records, and interview individuals who may have information about the sequence of events leading to the explosion.