Rock House Powellton Mine - West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training Updates

12/11/2018

MEDIA UPDATE
 
FOR RELEASE: December 12, 2018 – 6:50 p.m.
 
CHARLESTON, WV – The West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training confirms the three missing individuals have been located alive in the Rock House Powellton mine in Clear Creek, Raleigh County.
 
Efforts are underway now to bring the individuals to the surface where they will be transported for medical treatment.
 
A press conference will be held at 8 p.m. at the Whitesville Volunteer Fire Department.​


FOR RELEASE: December 12, 2018 - 2:45 p.m.
 
CHARLESTON, WV – These are the latest updates on search efforts to locate missing persons at the Rock House Powellton mine in Clear Creek, Raleigh County.
 
Main mine portal (Boone County side):  Mine rescue teams have been unable to enter the main mine portal on the Boone County side of the mountain.  Although water is still being pumped from the mine, levels remain too deep for entry. Fans are still circulating fresh air into the mine at this location.
 
Rock Creek portal (Raleigh County side): Rescue teams have progressed 4,000 ft. into the mine. A fresh air base has been established and rescue teams are still exploring the mine as of the time of this update.
 
WV Miners’ Health, Safety & Training Director Eugene White and the WV National Guard will provide an update to the media at 4 p.m. today at the Whitesville Volunteer Fire Department.
 


FOR RELEASE: December 12, 2018 - 10:15 a.m.
 
CHARLESTON, WV - Search effort continues to locate missing persons at the Rock House Powellton mine in Clear Creek, Raleigh County.
 
Officials from the WV Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training (MSH&T) and Alpha Natural Resources began work early this morning to deploy today’s plan of action.
 
In the past 24 hours, additional access has been cleared to the mine portal in Boone County. This will enable additional rescuers to enter the mine today. The teams will be entering this morning.
 
Eugene White, MHS&T Director, confirmed large fans operated overnight to move fresh air into the mine at the main portal site.  Water pumps also operated overnight, clearing standing water from the mine, which will allow rescuers to expand their search.
 
Multiple teams of rescuers from MHS&T and Alpha Natural Resources will be entering the mine this morning. A four-man team will enter the main portal on the Boone County side of the mine, aided by four team members who will guide the effort from the surface. Two four-man teams will enter the mine from the Rock House entrance in Raleigh County, with support on the surface.
 
Additional updates will be provided as they become available.
​ 

FOR RELEASE: December 11, 2018 - 3:00 p.m.
CHARLESTON, WV - Search effort continues to locate missing persons at the Rock House Powellton mine in Clear Creek, Raleigh County.
 
The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training (MHS&T) confirmed late Monday night one of the four missing persons emerged on his own from the Rock House Powellton mine. The man informed officials the remaining three missing persons were alive and still in the mine and provided details regarding their location.
 
Two four-man rescue teams explored the mine again overnight, aided by eight team members who guided the effort from the surface. The teams exited the mine at near daybreak after search efforts were unsuccessful and oxygen reserves in their rescue apparatus were depleted.
 
Today, officials are working to remove standing water from an alternate entryway and pump fresh air into the mine, allowing rescue teams to expand their search area in the mine for the missing individuals.
 
“Our priority is rescuing these individuals and maintaining the safety of our mine rescue teams. I have ordered the coordination of all resources needed for rescuers to continue to search the mine. We’re doing everything we can to accelerate the rescue,” said Gov. Justice.
 
After being briefed on the rescue situation last night, Gov. Justice drove to Whitesville and spent many hours with the families at the Community Center and visited the mine rescue team at the mine portal before they went underground. “These families, friends, and the entire community are really hurting and need to be in our prayers. We also need to keep the mine rescue teams in our prayers as they attempt to pull off this rescue. We are blessed to have the experience and leadership of MHS&T Director Eugene White,” Governor Justice added.
 
The Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training, WV National Guard, WV State Police, Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, Boone County Sheriff’s Office and mine officials have coordinated the search and rescue efforts since the four individuals were reported missing late Saturday near the mine in Clear Creek, WV.
 
Additional updates will be provided as they become available.

FOR RELEASE: December 11, 2018 - 12:15 a.m.
CONTACT: Samantha Smith, Samantha.Smith@wv.gov or 304-957-9364
 
(December 11, 2018) Additional rescuers are preparing to enter the Rock House Powellton mine again after one man emerged from the mine with information about the location of the remaining missing individuals.
 
The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training (MHS&T) confirms one of the missing men emerged on his own from the Rock House Powellton mine earlier this evening. The man told officials the remaining three missing individuals were still in the mine and was able to provide details regarding their location. 
 
Upon receiving an update on the situation, Governor Justice immediately authorized additional personnel and resources to aid in the rescue of the missing individuals. 
 
“When I learned that the missing people were still in the mine I said we needed to go as fast as we can go to get back in there and get them out,” said Governor Justice. 
 
“From the beginning I’ve said we needed to use all the resources available to us. Many prayers were answered when the one individual exited the mine with information about where the others were located. We are praying they can be found quickly and brought out to safety.”
 
Two four-man teams of rescuers are currently preparing to enter the mine. Earlier this evening the rescue team exited the mine, citing dangerously low oxygen levels.
 
The Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training, WV National Guard, WV State Police, Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, Boone County Sheriff’s Office and mine officials have coordinated on the search and rescue efforts since the four individuals were reported missing late Saturday near the mine in Clear Creek, WV. 
 
The MHS&T mine rescue team was activated early Sunday morning after an abandoned ATV the individuals were believed to be riding was found near the mine entrance. 
 
Additional updates will be provided as they become available. 
 
FOR RELEASE: December 10, 2018
CONTACT: Samantha Smith, Samantha.Smith@wv.gov or 304-957-9364
 
(December 10, 2018) The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training (MHS&T) continues to aid the Raleigh County Sheriff, the Boone County Sheriff, West Virginia State Police and mine officials in the ongoing search for four individuals reported missing late Saturday near the Elk Run Coal Company’s Rock House Powellton Mine in Clear Creek, WV. 
 
Rough terrain and heavy snow prevented the rescue team from accessing the mine portal where the abandoned ATV was found.
 
A team of four rescuers, comprised of two members from MHST and two from parent company Alpha Natural Resources, entered the mine through an alternate entrance at approximately 1 p.m. Sunday to begin the search.  The rescuers were blocked by water and forced to exit the mine.
 
Efforts are currently underway this morning to gain access to the mine entrance where the four are believed to have entered the mine. 
 
The West Virginia National Guard, through the coordination with the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is providing a team of six soldiers and three Humvees to assist MHS&T, mine officials and law enforcement in the ongoing search efforts.  Soldiers and assets from WV National Guard will be used to transport equipment and personnel to the mine entrance.
 
The MHS&T mine rescue team was activated early Sunday morning after an abandoned ATV the individuals were believed to be riding was found near the mine entrance. 
 
Additional updates will be provided as they become available. 


December 9, 2018 - CHARLESTON, WV
 - Gov. Jim Justice issued the following statement today after a second abandoned mine trespassing incident was reported in the last two weeks:

"All West Virginians who are driving, riding ATV’s, or hiking near abandoned mines please STOP entering the abandoned mines. This is extremely irresponsible behavior that puts our first responders and mine safety crews in unsafe situations when they should be focused on ensuring safety at active mines. I cannot stress enough how dangerous these abandoned mines are and how hazardous they are to humans."
 

Original statement from the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training:
 
(December 9, 2018) The West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training (MHS&T) confirms it is assisting the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office in the search for four individuals reported missing near the Elk Run Coal Company’s Rock House Powellton Mine in Clear Creek, WV.  
 
The MHS&T mine rescue team was activated early this morning after an abandoned ATV the individuals were believed to be riding was found near the mine entrance.  Members of the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, along with officials from the mining company and MHS&T, met this morning to assess the situation and prepare an action plan.
 
A team of four rescuers comprised of two members from MHST and two from parent company Alpha Natural Resources, entered the mine at approximately 1 p.m. to begin the search.
 
Eugene White, MHS&T director, says it may be several hours before additional updates are available. ​​​​​

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Butch Antolini

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Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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