Cookport, PA Mine Gas Explosion, Feb 1984


Cookport -- The bodies of three miners killed in a methane-gas explosion in the Greenwich Colleries North Mine near Cookpot, were recovered at 12:07 a.m. today, according to a company spokesman.
The three miners were killed and 10 others injured in the explosion that ripped through the mine at 4:30 a.m. Thursday.
Killed in the explosion were pumper WALTER S. (DINO) DEPTO, JR., 47, and pipeman STEPHEN M. PARZATKA, 31, both of Hastings; and pipeman GARY L. MILLER, 34, of Fallentimber, all of northern Cambria County.
The victims were taken to the Indiana Hospital where Indiana County Coroner Thomas L. Streams said autopsies were scheduled for this morning.
Four of the 10 injured miners were admitted to Miners Hospital in Spangler in guarded condition while the others were treated at the same hospital and released.
One of the miners was transferred to Clearfield Hospital.
According to an Associated Press Report, an official of the national Mine Safety and Health Administration blasted the mine for having a history of methane problems.
"We've had too many problems with the mathane in the mine," said Frank O'Gorman f the MSHA in Arlington, Va.
A routine investigation of the ventilation system by O'Gorman's agency was in progress at the time of the explosion, he said.
According to O'Gorman, the mine was assessed $28,145 for 310 penalties for violations between Oct. 1, 1982 and Sept. 30, 1983. Of those, 178 were rated "substantial and serious," meaning they could result in death or serious injury.
Novotny refused to speculate on the cause of the explosion.
But O'Gorman said methane, commonly found in coal seams, was seeping into the mine at a rate of 2.37 million cubic feet a day.
Methane would have had to make up 5 to 15 percent of the mine's atmosphere to be explosive, O'Gorman said. Dry winter air and the area's 30.22-inch barometric pressure may hav contributed to the danger by allowing the gas to expand, he said.
Methane levels in most mines are about 1 percent and a 2 percent level signals danger, O'Gorman added.
Richard Trumka, president of the United Mine Workers of America, was scheduled to meet with rank and file members today at the Slovak Club in Barnesboro, where he is expected to lash out at the mine for having an alleged record of substantial safety violations.

Indiana Gazette Pennsylvania 1984-02-18