Worker dies after wall collapses at Washington County coal mine
A worker at a Consol Energy coal mine in Washington County died Thursday evening when a wall collapsed, according to authorities.
The victim was identified as Tanner Lee McFarland, 25, of Washington, according to state police, who are investigating the incident.
The wall collapsed about 6 p.m. in the Enlow Fork Mine along Dry Run Road in Prosperity, which is about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.
An autopsy will be conducted by the Washington County coroner to determine the cause and manner of McFarland’s death. McFarland was a supervisor and had worked at the mine for about six years, according to a person answering the phone at his home.
McFarland leaves behind a wife and a young son, according to his Facebook page.
“We are saddened to confirm that last evening we lost a member of the Consol Energy family at our Enlow Fork Mine during an incident underground,” Zach Smith, the company’s manager of external affairs wrote in a news release Friday morning.
“We are working closely with state and federal officials to determine the cause of the accident,” Smith wrote. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones during this very difficult time.”
Among the agencies investigating the incident are the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Mine Safety.
The facility is used for “longwall” mining, a form of underground coal mining in which a long wall of coal is mined in a single slice.
Consol has been conducting longwall mining at Enlow Fork since 1991, according to its website. An average of 11.5 million tons of coal a year is mined from the site.
Inspection reports filed by the U.S. MSHA show no other fatalities at the Enlow Fork Mine since 2008. Non-fatal injuries resulting in loss of days numbered 35 in 2018 and seven so far this year, according to MSHA.
Last year had the second-lowest number of mining fatalities on record in the United States. Eighteen fatalities occurred at surface operations, and nine occurred in underground mines in 2018, MSHA said.
So far this year, there have been four fatalities in underground mines and 12 in surface mines, MSHA said.