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Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health
Explosion at McElroy Mine
Moundsville, W.Va.
January 22, 2003

     On behalf of Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao and all of us at the Department of Labor, I would like to express our deep sorrow and sympathy to the families of the miners who lost their lives early this morning in a shaft explosion at the McElroy Mine. The hearts of all of us, especially in the Mine Safety and Health Administration, go out to these families, and to the injured miners and their families also.   Most of us in the Mine Safety and Health Administration have worked in the mines and come from mining families. We take all fatalities and injuries in the mining industry personally, and we grieve with you."

     We were notified of the explosion at about 2 a.m. and immediately sent officials to the site. MSHA placed a control order on the mine so that all actions taken must be approved by our ranking official on site. MSHA worked closely with company officials' and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training during the recovery of the victims.

     I have ordered a complete investigation to be started today. We will determine exactly what happened to cause the explosion and we will take the steps necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future.