Why are miners dying?


In Makiyivka the funerals have taken place of eight miners from the Kirov Mine who died on 23 August from an explosion underground. On the same day the State Committee on Industrial Safety gave its preliminary verdict – that the explosion was the result of infringements of safety norms.

The State Committee says that it is going to undertake a check of all mines in Ukraine.

In a damning article at it is alleged that a Donetsk firm is freely selling fake means of protection.

The author, Dmitry Shumilov points out that each million tonnes of coal extracted in Ukraine costs the lives of four miners. The main reason given for this lies in difficult mining and geological conditions and methane emissions. Yet these are no new phenomenon and means have long been developed to help save lives when accidents occur. Each miner goes underground with his own personal rescue kit. Yet this last hope is often a bitter disillusionment.

Even according to official data, there are a fair number of con artists flogging fake protection devices – respirators and personal rescue kits, claiming that they’re from factories.

The author alleges that firms with a big number of branches and good contacts and established setups within the sphere of government procurement act as suppliers.

It is just over a year since the accident at the Karl Marx Mine on 8 June 2008 in which 13 miners died. The investigation found more than 130 rescue kits without oxygen canisters and faked quality certificates. More than 1,000 were found at the mine. The case is with the Prosecutor, however nobody has been brought to answer.

Checks by the Donetsk Department of the State Committee on Industrial Safety show that inadequate rescue kits are already common. It should be noted that only 85% of working enterprises even provide such means of protection. The Department has issued details of obvious shenanigans with these rescue kits.   In each case up to a third of the rescue kits had to be removed as unsuitable for use.

The author points out that though the State Committee knows that shoddy equipment was sold, nobody has been brought to answer. In each of the cases cited, one Donetsk company was the supplier.

The Internet site Ostrov says that they have managed to speak to a member of staff of the enterprise. They do not reveal the name of their informant, but state that they are willing to provide all information to the law enforcement agencies. The informant says that the company initially goes to the bone fide provider, but then uses underground production sources making fakes. Real certificates are issued for each consignment and these are taken and faked. 

The employee says that while special clothing and footwear are mostly just not up to standard, the special devices – for saving a man’s life – are often fakes. The tampered with certificates, he claims, are used constantly. The devices are generally provided to Luhansk and Donetsk mines.

The allegations here are very serious, and without any names or proof there is little point in giving all the details. We will endeavour to follow any further developments.

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