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August 28, 2007

Two chinese coal miners lived, 179 did not

The tale of two chinese coal miners who lived. Remember these are the two who lived while 179 others died We also recently had the 12 coal mining deaths in the United States.

The two who lived had to drink their own urine, eat coal and dig through 66 feet of dirt and coal.


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How many nuclear energy deaths have there been this year ? Zero.
How about coal mining deaths in the last year ? 5000 to 10,000 worldwide.
How about nuclear energy deaths in the last ten years ? Zero.
How about coal mining deaths in the last ten year ? about 80,000 worldwide.

Many of those who die in coal mines do not die painlessly or instantly.
Many were likely trapped and suffered for days in failed efforts but were too deep to free themselves or for help to reach them in time.

Plus there are the air pollution deaths of about 1 million each year.
Many of those suffered from painful diseases before succumbing.

A lot of deaths and injuries for coal power versus almost none for nuclear power. IT also translates into a lot of human suffering.

For those who only care about animal suffering and deaths, like the Michael Vick and DMX dog fighting, coal kills thousands and millions of animals when mountain tops get blown off to reach coal. Almost the animals and trees in the destroyed forest are killed. There are some that also could be injured and live or injured and die.

So remember the starting point, two chinese miners suffered and struggled for 11 days and lived. Many others suffered and struggled and died.

Even the chemical "scrubbing" of air pollution generates more toxins in the ash

FURTHER READING:
International mine safety


Coal deaths per million tons

 2005 coal production
PR China 2226 Mt
USA 951 Mt
India 398 Mt (avg about 150 deaths/year)
Australia 301 Mt
South Africa 240 Mt
Russia 222 Mt
Indonesia 140 Mt


China¹s total death toll from coal mining averages well over 5000 per year - official figures give
5300 in 2000
5670 in 2001
7200 in 2003
6027 in 2004
5,986 deaths in 2005
4,746 deaths in 2006

Ukraine's coal mine death toll is over two hundred per year
1999: 274
1998: 360
1995: 339
1992: 459
Coal mining in the Ukraine

Wikipedia on mining accidents

Coal fatalities by state from 1996 to 2007 from U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration.

All mining fatalities by state 1996 to 2007

Fatality stats for mining in the USA

Historical mining deaths and injuries by decade for the USA

Discussion of mine safety

[from a surface mining operation]. At mines in the U.S., we find that most fatal accidents on the surface relate to transportation. It could be trucks, front-end loaders, railway cars, belt conveyors, and similar equipment. There are many factors involved in these accidents. Some of the factors are equipment maintenance, roadway design, and training. Another important factor is visibility. In fact, restricted visibility factored into more than a hundred miners' deaths during a recent 10-year period in the U.S.


Successful evacuation in USA and Australia mines.
Part of the credit for that achievement almost certainly belongs to the Personal Emergency Device. How, you might ask, could the mine operator send a page to everyone under tons and feet of rock?

The key is that the system uses a fluctuating low frequency magnetic field to send messages instead of the electro-magnetic waves. This pager system seems to be a very promising example of new technology that can help to protect miners. Incidentally, it is a fine example of the value of international exchange. This unit was developed and originated in Australia.


So far the examples I have given are of mine safety. The other half of the picture we are concerned with is the occupational health issues. For example, consider a coal miner in Kentucky named Terry Howard. He operated a drill at a surface coal mine. Several years ago, during his prime working years, he developed breathing problems. His illness turned out to be silicosis, contracted from breathing the quartz dust that surrounded him when he drilled into the rock overburden.

Silicosis, as we all know, is an incurable disease and can get worse when the sick person is removed from further exposure. There is no cure for silicosis. Howard became totally disabled. His condition deteriorated rapidly and he died, leaving a widow and three school age children. He was only 45 years old.

In the U.S. we have had health regulations in place to combat lung disease among miners since 1970. There has been great progress but as May mentioned, in 1997 there was still more than 300 new cases of occupational lung disease reported to our agency.


Uranium mining versus coal mining

1. Uranium mining is inherently safer because of differences in mining methods

Uranium mining

Mostly insitu leaching. Putting pipes in the ground and pumping an acid mixture in other pipes and pumps drain the dissolved mixture with uranium in it. No miner goes underground. Open pit surface mining performed at times for both coal and uranium.

Coal mining has a lot more risks for fires and explosions.

Coal mining is for 6 billion tons of coal, uranium mining is for 60,000 tons of uranium each year. 100,000 times less target material. Even the amount of rock removed by uranium mining is less.

Ukraine and China have the highest risks in coal mining and they still send a lot fo guys underground (hundreds of thousands).

The US and Australia (safest coal mines) are highly automated by using long wall mining underground. Guys still die just less because they are 100 times more efficient in terms of manpower.

Mountain top removal for 30% of the coal mines in the USA.
Use 1000 tons of explosives per day to blow away dirt and forest to get at coal. Around 7 billion gallons of sludge gets dammed up. There have been leaks of sludge that have killed all aquatic life in rivers and on one occasion 125 people.

The sludge pond is permitted to hold 2.8 billion gallons of toxic sludge, and is 21 times larger than the pond which killed 125 people in the Buffalo Creek Flood.

Blasting at a mountaintop removal mine expels coal dust and fly-rock into the air, which can then disturb or settle onto private property nearby. This dust contains sulfur compounds, which corrodes structures and tombstones and is a health hazard.

6 comments:

Kirk Sorensen said...

Thank you for calling attention to this, Brian. It absolutely sickens me how callous the coal industry is with human life, and how the media never calls them to accountability.

al fin said...

It would be nice to have a breakdown of these coal mining deaths by country.

Rather than blaming them all on a "coal industry" it might be more perceptive to blame the government officials in the countries involved who oversee mine safety. Or even to blame the consumers who create the demand that "the coal industry" is filling.

Whenever there is a profit to be made, you will always find someone willing to risk other people's lives, if they can get away with it--even in a People's Republic.

Hawkeye said...

Brian, you write about the impact that coal mining has on people, animals and the local environment.
What are the consequences of the collection of the nuclear fuel?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, one word about deaths indirectly due to Uranium mining:

Chernobyl

bw said...

How many deaths for Chernobyl ? 60 deaths all Russian for a model of plant that has been modified to have a containment dome like all others. Compared to coal ? Coal had over 4 times that many deaths this last two weeks.

Chernobyl deaths were 20 years ago. In that time just coal mining has killed over 150,000 people.

Over 2000 times more.

Add in coal transportion deaths (people hit by coal in trains and trucks) and we are looking at another double.

Then include the numbers from coal air pollution? one hundred times more than the already high mining deaths.

A comparable comparison in terms of number of deaths would be the virginia campus shooting against the 5 years of the Iraq War (not just US deaths but all combantant deaths).

bw said...

actually all deaths in the Iraq war. (500,000 to 1 million) and the Vietnam war (2 million) is less than half of the mining, transport, disease deaths from coal over 5 years .

So 33 virginia deaths from two major wars is less than chernobyl 60 versus 5 million coal deaths.