Page 9 - Mine Explosion in New Waterford, 1917
ISSUE : Issue 21
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1978/12/1
as being bad to James Campbell, overman. It was very bad on Thursday. The air came in the low level and went out at the high. He had met gas travelling against air in No. 8 west. When the mining inspector visited the mine four or six weeks ago there had been gas in places. Witness had met 30 or 40 feet of gas at different times. He had not called the mining inspector's attention to these facts....Witness had worked in other parts of the mine and had found gas. In his opinion it was a "gassy" mine. For the past year and a half he had always found gas. The witness was closely examined as to the use of brattices and whether they had been refused when he applied for same. He said that upon some occasions he found it hard to get a direct answer from those in au? thority as to whether brattices should be used or not. Duncan O'Handley was the next witness sworn. He said that he had had 40 years experience in mines. He had been eight years in No. 12. Had been ventilation boss for 6 years. In his opinion the mine was well ventilated. He had charge of ventila? tion of the whole mine. Sometimes they ran short of brattices for some days, but there had been no skimping of supply. Witness was closely examined in regard to an occasion upon which a miner named Ware- ham had reported gas in dangerous quanti? ties and had induced some men to leave their work on account of it. Witness std- mitted that the men were experienced min? ers but said that he had not found the gas as reported and had sent the men back to work. He did not believe that Wareham knew anything about gas. Witness could not say whether any changes in the system of ven? tilation would have made the mine less dangerous. It was a mine with lots of gas. He was not required to make a report of Ms daily work. He had never tested air in mine ex? cept with lamp.... The witness was also examined at great length as to the use of brattices in removing danger of gas. He did not think it was possible that air courses were blocked. So far as he knew there was no place where a man had to crawl through air course, as one member of the jury claimed. There was lots of air going into the mine and the air in the mine was always good while he was on the job. It was only a matter of a few hours for air to get bad. The third witness was Dan Cameron, pipe fitter. He was going into No. 8 level when explosion occurred. Had found gas for a week previous.... He had not reported this gas to underground manager. Had often heard men say that brattice should be used in places where it was not used.... In his opinion some rooms were too long • too far from the air. John Cameron, machine runner in No. 7 east, said that the ventilation in the mine was bad in his opinion. Had had to go home on account of bad air on occasions. His lamp gave very poor light sometimes. Had found gas in all parts of the mines. Had left the compressed air on a little all night to clear gas. Had been instructed to do this. Had asked for brattice upon occa? sions and had been refused upon one oc? casion. O'Handley had refused brattice saying it was no good to use it. He had finally got it and used it. August 4, 1917! (Mine manager • Dominion Coal Company official • Angus MacDonald, at coroner's inquest, said that he) had not been instructed to keep down expenses of mine. He thought the mining laws were per? fect as to examination of deputies. Brat? tice had never been refused any man to his knowledge. Witness did not think that bet? ter lights would have been of much help in saving men's lives • "self-lighters" as these lights were called. The mine was not a gassy one, no more gas than in other mines. Pat Walsh, overman at 2-6 west, was the next witness. Was in party which found the shot-firer McKay's body. Battery was 15 ft. from body in No. 3 room on high side. End of cable 8 inches from battery. Lamp about two feet away. Examined shot and thought it had been fired. (R. V. McNeil, underground manager, said that) according to mining law cross cuts should be 75 feet apart. A blind cross cut would accumulate gas. It was hard to get the men to make cross cuts. They got 7 cents extra a ton but coal was hard to shovel. The company had never questioned the cost of making cross cuts. Gus Brown had said that he wanted a vacation at Mira. That was the reason he took a week off. The air courses were all right. There had been so much evidence given of a conflicting nature that the coroner, jury and counsel present were very anxious to have Mr. Mcintosh's (Deputy Inspector of Mines) evidence. As the official exam? iner of the.mine they were anxious to have his evidence in regard to the ventilation and the amount of gas in the mine. Some witnesses had sworn that the air in the mine was good, and others had claimed that they could hardly breathe and that they had to leave for the surface on accoimt of bad air. There had also been a great deal of conflicting evidence as to whether gas in dangerous quantities was ever present in the mine. VERDICT OF THE CORONER'S JURY After two hours' deliberation the coro? ner's jury, inquiring into the death of the men at No. 12 colliery. New Waterford, brought in the following verdict: "We, the jury empanelled to enquire into the death of the men killed in the explo- Cape Breton's Maga2ine/9
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