Boulby: Questions need to be asked says MP

The scene today at Boulby Mine near Whitby after a serious incident occurred this morning. 17 June 2016. w162550t Picture: Ceri Oakes
The scene today at Boulby Mine near Whitby after a serious incident occurred this morning. 17 June 2016. w162550t Picture: Ceri Oakes
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Questions need to be asked over the safety operations at Boulby Mine in light of today’s tragedy at the plant.

The demand for answers is being led by MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop who represents the constituency where John Anderson, the miner killed in a gas explosion was from.

Today’s underground gas blast is the latest in a string of incidents that have required the HM Inspectorate for Mines to step in and investigate.

It follows a fire in April leaving seven workers in hospital suffering from smoke inhalation after the blaze was started in supposedly fire retardent polystyrene blocks used to direct air around the mine.

In 2014 the HM Inspectorate of Mines were called in when there was an underground collapse but no-one was injured.

In January 2012, a worker was airlifted to hospital after suffering chest injuries in an underground incident and eight months later, a mine worker was hurt when he was hit by falling debris.

In a statement issued today Mr Blenkinsopp said: “The miner who died in the explosion was one of my constituents who lived in East Cleveland.

“My immediate thoughts – and I have no doubt the thoughts of the entire local community – are with his family and friends.

“We cannot allow this death to go unmarked. Over the last decade and a half, the mine has been a safe working environment, certainly compared to years past where accidents were more frequent.

“However, In the space of just a few months we have seen two tragic incidents. I am concerned that this must not become a pattern. Mines legislation requires a full investigation, and I need to be reassured that this will indeed happen.

“I would also want to be reassured that recent redundancies at the mine have not altered day to day working practices to the extent that risk may have been allowed to creep back in. In the near future I will want to meet with both the mine owners, ICL Ltd, and the mine unions on these issues.”

Boulby Mine’s nearest rivals, York Potash which is planning on building a mine near Whitby also extended its sympathies to the victim and his family.

A spokesperson said: “There is a strong bond between many of our staff and the team at Boulby, through friendships and as former colleagues. We wish to offer our sincere condolences to the man’s family and our thoughts are with them as well as his friends and colleagues.”