Explosion in the Stepova coal mine in Lviv region: Why the tragedy happened?

Author : Valentyn Zemlyansky

Source : 112 Ukraine

The miners were trying to fulfill the production targets and ignored the safety rules
09:21, 3 March 2017

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“Stepova” mine is one of the largest mines, a leader in the state enterprise "Lvivvuhillja", but at the same time, it is the most dangerous enterprise from point of view coal mining. It was dangerous du to the presence of methane and possible coal dust explosion. Someone might say that yesterday’s situation was the result of non-compliance with the security measures. To be frank, the security measures were not followed, because over the past few years, there has always been an emergency situation. In 2008, an exceptional check has been conducted, and it revealed a large number of disorders, so this confirms that it is quite a dangerous activity. Moreover, if the state does not pay enough attention to the coal industry, I am afraid that such situations might occur even more frequently.

Related: Explosion on mine in Lviv region: eight died, 24 missing

What safety rules have been violated? Typically, each mine has gas detectors that show the critical level of methane and indicate when to stop work and ventilate the mine. This is an unwritten informal rule, when the miners are trying to fulfill the production targets set for some period of time. There were problems with the implementation mining plan - at the beginning of the year the miners went on strike. I think they were trying to catch up. Then, these analyzers were closed, and already despite the possibility of such an explosion, the work continues with the violation of safety rules.

Related: Poroshenko declared March 3 a day of mourning for victims of mine explosion in Lviv

Smoking is not allowed in the mine, but, as a rule, these restrictions are also violated.

Unfortunately, this is not the first tragedy in Ukrainian mines. We see that the state is not interested in further development of the coal industry as such, because the restructuring plan, which has been adopted in 2014, did not expect the development. It suggested the closure of two-thirds of the mines, of the Lviv-Volyn coal basin.

Related: Rockfall on mine in Lviv region: all miners evacuated

These cases might become more and more frequent without a program of strategic development of the industry and without its proper funding from the state. Not only the production levels should be maintained, but also all the rules of labor safety.

We have already witnessed such disasters in the cadence of other energy ministers. As a rule, this was not reflected on their careers. Speaking about the responsibility for the safety, every mine has a safety engineer, whose duty is to monitor the observance of all safety measures when miners are working under the ground.

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