No one can tell the political fallout that will occur in the wake of the dreadful mining disaster in Soma in western Turkey. Anger at the scale of the disaster was expressed across Turkey and to the remarks made by prime minister Erdogan on Wednesday when he commented that such accidents were ‘ordinary things’ and gave examples of 19th century mining accidents in Britain! The violence shown by the state against those who had the nerve to protest over the deaths and poor safety conditions in the mines, where the race for profits trumps any concerns for safety, should not come as a surprise to those who follow events in this divided country. What are clear are the personal tragedies for the 300 plus miners dead, their family and friends.
The mood in Soma is reported in the Guardian as oscillating between devastation and bitter anger. It was therefore interesting to read the following article which appeared in Hurriyet Daily News on 16 May, 2014:
“Soma disaster blatantly came, old report reveals
“Erdinç Çelikkan Ankara.
“A four-year-old report that clearly warns of the life-threatening risks in the Soma mine has revealed the tragedy of the workers who were killed in the Soma mine was blatantly not ‘a usual incident in the mining sector.’
“The ‘Work Accidents in Mines’ report prepared by the Chamber of Architects and Engineers’ (TMMOB) in 2010 gave notice of the dangers in the mine, warned against the potential disasters and set out solution suggestions.
“However, none of the issues pointed to were heeded, heading for an inevitable fall.
“The 152-page report says the coal at the Soma basin has a high level of methane, which makes the mine intolerant to any mistakes.
“ ‘No production should be made before the necessary research has been completed. Carrying out production with the lack of experience might lead to disaster,’ the report warns.
“The report draws attention to the lack of any alternative routes for breathing or escaping, which made the rescue of the workers almost impossible in case of an accident.
“‘The ventilation in the mine pit is adversely affected since workers can’t be evacuated from the mine urgently and safely,’ says the report that explains the dangers in details.
“There should have been a second alternative that connects above surface, the report notes.
“The lack of sufficient and underground mine-convenient fortification is one of the major issues that threaten the lives of workers at the mine, according to the TMMOB report.
“Incorrect and irregular implementation of ground and ceiling structure construction methods in the mine also causes landslides at the grounds, ceilings and side walls, the report read.
“Lack of suitable and sufficient airing systems lead to problems with discharging methane accumulation at funnel and conductor faces.
“Firedamp explosions and methane fires break out due to misusage of secondary ventilation, which suffers leakages because of having too long of pipe lines, additional secondary ventilators that cause short circuits and using secondary ventilators with too high or too low a power capacity.
“‘Making concessions on the independent airing principle can cause major accidents that affect businesses and workers,’ the report stresses.
“Another major deficiency at the mine is the absence of a pre-warning system that would alarm workers by sensing leaks of dangerous gases before too late.
“ ‘[Because of the lack of a gas monitoring system] Dangerous gases cannot be tracked at any time, necessary measures cannot be taken at the right time and evacuation of the mine cannot be maintained immediately,’ it elaborates.
“The report also draws attention to authorities not giving sufficient attention to problems in the electrical hardware and circuit breakers, which lost efficiency over time.
“Having non-sufficient emergency stations and evacuation facilities could lead to catastrophic results, the report warned.”
Hurriyet Daily News 16 May 2014