Editor, UBM

June 17, 2016

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Man dies in ‘gas blowout’ at mine

A man has died after a ‘sudden and powerful release of gas’ at a mine in north-east England.

The incident occured at 5.20am this morning at Boulby mine, owned by ICL UK, in Cleveland.

Boulby mine, which employs about 1,100 people,  is one of the deepest mines in Europe, and produces potash – an important ingredient in fertilisers.

Other employees who were in the mine at the time have been safely evacuated, according to a spokesperson.

Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, named the man as John Anderson on Twitter:

“ICL name John Anderson, my constituent, a miner who was killed this AM at Boulby. Thoughts and prayers with his family.”

In April, seven workers were taken to hospital after fire broke out at the mine, which is 1,400m deep and has tunnels that go far out under the North Sea.

In a statement, ICL UK said investigations had begun with senior mine management and the police, with Her Majesty’s Mines Inspectorate going underground to examine the scene, according to the local newspaper the Gazette.

The Health and Safety Executive has sent inspectors to Boulby Potash Mine. It said in a statement:

“We have three inspectors on site at the potash mine, who are specialists in mining and mechanical engineering. They will work with police to investigate the circumstance of the incident when a worker sadly died this morning underground.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and work colleagues, some of whom were also injured in the incident.”

Simon Hunter, safety manager at Boulby Mine, has made a statement:

“Naturally, everyone involved with Boulby is affected by this tragic incident.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with John’s family and friends and we will be doing everything we can to support them through this very difficult time.

“The investigations into the incident have already begun but are at a very early stage.

“We will be co-operating fully with the Mines Inspectorate to discover exactly what happened. What we do know as this stage is that there was what we describe as a ‘gas blow’.

“A gas blow is a sudden release of a small amount of gas at exceedingly high pressure which also displace minerals.

“These events are not uncommon and we had procedures in place to ensure safe working.

“There is no suggestion that these procedures were not being followed.

“At this early stage of the investigation it would appear that this particular event was unprecedented.

“Mining has its risks, but safety is always out first priority. We have begun an investigation and it is important this is allowed to run its course.”

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