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CREATING NATIONAL COAL MINING GEOSPATIAL - page 3 / 14

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Figure 1: Governor of Pennsylvania et. al. study a paper map during Quecreek rescue.

Fortunately for the nine men involved, everyone remembers Quecreek because of the rescue effort was successful.  The perception is that paper maps saved the day allowing rescuers  to accurately locate and drill the rescue shaft used to free the trapped men.  Unfortunately for workers trapped after Quecreek, most people never learned or quickly forgot why the Pennsylvania mine became inundated July 24, 2002.  

The United States Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a report July 24, 2006 citing faulty maps as a cause for the Quecreek Mine disaster in June 2002, trapping nine miners for 4 days.  According to the MHSA's Quecreek accident report, "The primary cause of the water inundation was the use of an undated and uncertified mine map of the Harrison No.2 mine. “   See also Faulty Maps to Blame for Quecreek Mine Disaster.  The MSHA report states “The root cause of the accident was the unavailability of a certified final mine map for Harrison No.2 mine in the State of Pennsylvania's mine map repository."  While that is certainly true, the lack of any ability to see “Harrison No.2 mine workings overlaid on the Quecreek #1 mine map” more accurately describes the limitations of operating with paper that really created the situation at Quecreek.

Requirements for survey ground control in Pennsylvania prior to Quecreek were basically similar to what the authors believe exists today in most coal mining states.  Underground maps are referenced to a group of ground control points typically clustered together near the face up of the mine.  As a result of delays encountered in surveying the location to drill a rescue shaft during the successful Quecreek rescue, Pennsylvania passed reform legislation requiring survey control at one mile intervals along the axis of active underground mining operations.  The lack of similar legislation in West Virginia impacted attempts to rescue miners trapped in the Sago mine approximately three and a half years later.

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