The Mining Disaster in Turkey: What's behind this Loss of Lives?

It was reported on CNN that almost 300 miners died when a transformer exploded in Soma, Turkey.  To compound the tragedy,almost 200 miners are still trapped below the surface.  The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inflamed already high tensions by indicating that the deaths are par for the course in a dangerous industry.  It sounds really insensitive at the time of a tragedy that is still unfolding.  On a smaller scale, two miners in West Virginia died in a recent accident.

The mining industry is an economic engine for many people around the world.  Almost 3.7 million people are directly employed in the actual excavation of underground and surface materials.  About 20 million people work in artisinal and small scale mines.  There are also a number of manufacturing jobs associate with this industry.  The makers of heavy equipment and other energy providers rely on those individuals that risk their lives everyday descending into the bowels of the earth.

The mining industry is a dangerous one for the workers involved.  I grew up listening to the horrors of black lung disease.  Many miners worked in poorly ventilated areas with no respirators.  In 2013, almost 90 workers died in China when a landslide occurred while mining for gold.  In 2012, 60 people died in another landslide that was caused when mining for gold.  A major event, with a happy ending, occurred in Peru in 2010.  Thirty-three miners were rescued after spending 69 days underground.  I wonder how many of those workers had no other choice but to re-enter those mines.  Also, in the Ukraine, 90 people died in a terrible mining accident in 2007.  Miners all over the world can suffer a terrible fate when things go wrong.

A new term for mining in our area is called fracking.  We are aware of this process in Pennsylvania because current Governor Tom Corbett is a big friend of the fracking industry.  I am opposed to fracking for the following reasons:

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing point to environmental risks, including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, contamination of the air, noise pollution, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flow-back, and the possiblehealth effects of these.[7] There are increases in seismic activity, mostly associated with deep injection disposal of flowback and produced brine from hydraulically fractured wells.    

I feel that we should be able to find more environmentally friendly ways to provide safe sources of energy for our future.  Politicians cannot resist large donation checks though.  Our Governor wasn't even going to tax those involved in the fracking industry.

I am truly sorry for the families of those miners that lost their lives in Turkey.  I was particularly incensed by a picture of a Turkish official kicking a protester who wanted safer conditions for the mine workers.  I am quite sure that he will regret that action.  My review of the mining industry reveals that many workers will still have to provide for their families by working in this sometimes dangerous profession.  I hope for a positive resolution to the plight of those miners still trapped below the surface in Turkey.  The situation looks bleak though.  I wish all miners a safe working day and a chance to return home to their families.

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