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Gov. Justice honors 18th anniversary of Sago Mine disaster

January 7th, 2024 by WCBC Radio

On Jan. 2, 2006, 13 miners became trapped at the Sago Mine, near Buckhannon in Upshur County. A methane explosion trapped the men, and after two days of hope, only one emerged alive. Federal hearings took place later that year in Buckhannon. The mine’s operator, International Coal Group, blamed a lightning strike for the methane explosion. The respirators the miners were provided to help them breathe were not working properly. At least nine coal miners were killed on the job nationwide in 2023, and Chris Williamson, assistant secretary for Mine Safety and Health, says that number can be improved. “We all want to get down to zero, like one mining, fatality, whether it’s a coal miner, or metal nonmetal miners, is one to many,” he said.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin also released a statement on the anniversary. “Eighteen years ago, we lost twelve brave coal miners who went to work at the Sago Mine and never returned home to their beloved families,” he said. “In their honor, West Virginians worked together to pass legislation that improved safety standards for our miners who sacrifice every day to power our great nation. The anniversary of this tragedy reminds us that our miners are willing to risk their lives for us, and we owe it to them to prioritize their health and safety. Gayle and I will keep the miners’ families and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers, and we encourage all West Virginians to take a moment to remember and honor the twelve courageous West Virginians who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our great state and nation.”