As we were tragically reminded the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that claimed 29 lives in West Virginia, coal mining is a dangerous and dirty business for both people and the planet.

As we continue our reliance on coal for energy, we think it's important to highlight the human cost of this energy choice.

1907 was the worst year in the United States, when 3,242 lives were lost as a result of coal mining. While we've certainly come a long way in the last century, many people are still losing their lives each year, with 33 fatalities occurring in 2007.

Take a look at 9 of the worst coal mining related disasters to have impacted the world.


1. Sago, West Virginia

On January 2nd, 2006, an explosion trapped 13 miners deep in Sago Mine.  41 hours after the explosion, it was falsely announced that 12 of the 13 miners had been found alive.  The news broke quickly across the country, as family and friends celebrated.  Unfortunately, the incorrect information came from a series of miscommunications passed among rescue workers, and tragically, only one of the 13 men ended up surviving.


2. Benxi, China

The worst coal mine related disaster in the world occured on April 26, 1942 at the Benxihu Colliery in China.  A gas and coal dust explosion killed 1,549 people.


3. TVA Kingston Fossil Plant, Tennessee

America's worst man-made environmental disaster occurred on December 22nd, 2008, when 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash flooded forth from an ash holding pond after one if its walls gave way at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee.  400 acres of land, including the nearby Emory River and more than a dozen homes, were flooded with the toxic waste product from the coal plant.  Just last month the EPA, in the final stages of cleaning up the Emory River, announced that a full clean up would be impossible, with 5 to 20% of the ash destined to remain in the river.


4. Courrières, France

Europe's worst mining disaster occurred in northern France on March 10, 1906.  A dust explosion of unknown origin killed 1,099 miners.


5. Aberfan, Wales, UK

Merthyr Vale Colliery was a coal mining facility above the town of Aberfan.  For approximately 50 years, millions of cubic metres of debris from the mine had been deposited on the side of Merthyr Mountain.  On October 21st, 1966, heavy rains brought a torrential flood of liquefied debris rushing down the mountain and into the town, killing 144 people; 116 of them were children.


6. Monongah, West Virginia

The worst mining disaster in American history happened at the Monongah Mine on December 6th, 1907.  Over 360 lives were lost that day by an explosion in mines number 6 and 8.


7. Martin County, Kentucky

When a coal sludge impound, owned by Massey Energy, burst open on October 11, 2000, 306 million gallons of waste poured down two tributaries of Tug Fork River in Kentucky.  The disaster was responsible for the contamination of the drinking water of 27,000 people, and killed all aquatic life in the two rivers, with an estimate of 1.6 million fish caught in the thick, sticky pollution.  A much smaller spill happened in the same area earlier this year, having residents worried that little has been done to prevent the disaster from repeating itself.


8. Heilongjiang, China

An explosion occurred in the Xinxing Coal Mine on November 21, 2009, causing the worst mine disaster in the area in two years.  The death toll reached 108, with 420 believed to have been rescued.


9. Farmington, West Virginia

On November 20, 1968, an explosion that could be felt 12 miles away surged through Farmington Mine in West Virginia.  21 miners were able to escape with their lives, but the other 78 still trapped in the mine perished.  The disaster led to the passing of the 1969 Coal Mine Safety And Health Act.

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Date: 18 Apr 2010 | Author: mesmerX | Category: Pictures | Views: 5506

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