CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Coal mining deaths surged in the U.S. in 2017, one year after they hit a record low.
The nation’s coal mines recorded 15 deaths last year, including eight in West Virginia. Kentucky had two deaths, and there were one each in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, Pennsylvania and Wyoming. In 2016 there were eight U.S. coal mine deaths.
West Virginia has led the nation in coal mining deaths in six of the past eight years. That includes 2010, when 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia. Coincidentally, today is also the 12th anniversary of the Sago Mine disaster which killed 12 men.
Retired coal company executive David Zatezalo of Wheeling was appointed in September by President Donald Trump as the new chief of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.