“This accident has proven once again that a human is powerless before nature.”
This disaster was no accident.Â This was noÂ unpredictable force of nature.Â Â It was a massive methane explosion that could have–should have–been prevented.Â Shame onÂ Yanukovych for suggestingÂ the Ukrainian coal industry is powerlessÂ toÂ stop them.Â
Underground coal mining and methane go hand-in-hand.Â Prime Minister Yanukovych may not know this, but minersÂ have known itÂ for ages.Â When the methane concentrationÂ in a mineÂ is betweenÂ 5-15%,Â it is highly explosive.Â That’s theÂ reasonÂ methane gas levels are supposed to be check so frequently (e.g., pre-shift, on-shift), and when they merely start to creep in a dangerousÂ direction, immediate measures must be taken.Â The principalÂ ways to prevent methane explosions are ventilation (and more ventilation!), rock dusting to control coal dust (which can fuel an explosion), and prohibitingÂ ignition sources underground (e.g., open flames, sparks fromÂ electrical equipment.)
Mr. Mykola Ishchenko, whose 28-year old son was killed in the November 18 disaster said:
“Safety requirements are violated there permanently.Â The system of ventilation in the shaft was not working for two days before the explosion.”
The head of Ukraine’s indpendent trade union for miners, Mr. Mykhaylo Volynets said:
“An accident like this could have been prevented if the state had carried out its responsibilities properly and controlled the situation in the industry.Â Â [The industry is riddled with]Â “corruption and irresponsible behavior.”
Yanukovych’s quip: “This accident has proven once again that a human is powerless before nature” is a slap in the face to the deceased miners’ families. Â It’s also an insult to workers who have complained about the disregard for safety at this coal mine and others in the Ukraine.