MSHA issues report on flooded mine

January 21, 2010

Blocked culverts caused rainstorm runoff water to flood into a West Virginia mine last May, trapping seven miners underground for nearly 24 hours, according to a Mine Safety and Health Administration report (large .pdf file) released Jan. 14.

The miners later exited the Mountaineer Alma A Mine in Wharncliffe safely and without injury after the water was pumped down.

MSHA's report found the mine operator -- Cobra Natural Resources LLC -- failed to regularly monitor and maintain the mine's system of diversion ditches, leading to inadequate protection of the surface openings from floodwater. The operator also failed to maintain two "separate and distinct" escapeways. Cobra Natural Resources was cited for both failures found in the report.