Home Energy and Environment Virginia Becomes First State to See Coal Mine Death in 2012

Virginia Becomes First State to See Coal Mine Death in 2012

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Going in a coal mineAmerica’s first reminder of the true cost of cheap energy in 2012 comes from Virginia:

A Mercer County coal miner died Wednesday evening as a result of injuries he received while working at Consol’s Buchanan No. 1 Mine on Jan. 11. He was the first coal miner to be fatally injured on the job this year.

Joe Saunders, 44, of Princeton, died at Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Tenn., according to Mike Abbott, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy. Saunders and another coal miner were both injured at about 9 p.m., on Jan. 11, when a high-pressure water line valve they were working on blew off and broke into pieces. Abbott said that Saunders was struck in the head by one of the pieces. Abbott said that Saunders was initially transported to Clinch Valley Medical Center in Richlands, then transported to BRMC.

We tend to turn a blind eye to coal mining deaths unless they come in bunches like the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, but individual deaths like this add up to dozens of miners killed every year. While our dependence on coal keeps electricity rates low for consumers, it comes with a steep cost in human lives, both in mine accidents and pollution deaths.

Via Ken Ward Jr.’s Coal Tattoo