• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Sago Mine Accident Report Focuses on Lightning

May 04, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

A consultant hired by the International Coal Group, owner of the Sago Mine where 12 miners lost their lives in an explosion, stated that a lightning strike was the probable cause.

ABC News reports that Thomas Novak, a Virginia Tech mining professor hired by International Coal Group (ICG), stated on the second day of investigative hearings that lightning probably flowed from a tree and pulsed along a power line, ultimately igniting methane gas and causing the explosion at the Sago Mine. Once inside, the charge traveled along a steel conveyor belt hanging from a metal mesh roof support, stopping just feet away from the sealed-off section where the blast occurred.

“Lightning doesn’t have to strike something directly,” Novak told the panel. He also agreed upon further questioning that his preliminary findings could be characterized as a hypothesis, ABC News reports.

The article states that he said he need to examine more data, and ICG said it plans to hire another consultant to assess the mine geology for the possibility of metal in the rock walls, roof and floor.

State and federal investigators have not announced their findings, ABC reports, and they were skeptical of Novak’s hypothesis, questioning him repeatedly.

However, according to Sarah Jane Bailey, daughter of George Hamner who died in the mine explosion, stated that ICG’s believe that a lightning caused the explosion is an attempt to influence public opinion before the state and federal Mine Safety and Health Administration complete their investigations.

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By Paul Kerstein