The Centralia Coal Mine located in Centralia, Illinois became the site of one of the worst disasters in history. March 25, 1947 at a proximally 3:26 p.m. there was an explosion that became noticeable to the assistant mining superintendent when the fan circuit to the mine blew in the power plant in which he was located. Following protocol he alerted the district inspector and the main office called the state, who Intel communicated with other rescue agencies for help. Being one of the of the mines that provided coal for the war it would seem to appear that there could have been political involvement as to the ignoring of the safety warnings given by Mr. Scanlan. Though Mr. Scanlan was appointed by then Governor Green, and hired by Robert Medill the director of the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals.
Scanlan growing up working the mines came highly recommended. Being appointed to the territory that covers Centralia 5, upon first inspection Mr. Scanlan recommended that the mine be closed, as to repair violation and make the mines a bit more safe. Mr. Scanlan sent these reports to the head office of Mines and Bell and Zoller Coal Mine Company. This continued for five years of having his reports ignored. Was the excuse that before Scanlan was hired the mine had a passing record? But if one examined the length of time that this mine had been work the buildup on the roads should have been an acknowlgement of the conditions.
After his first visit Scanlan suggested that the number 5 mine in Illinois be closed. Why were the recommendations ignored? Was there not enough trust in the report or the inspector? Did Scanlan exercise his rights as an inspector? No because one of the duties of an inspector is to police the operators of the mines, in other words he should have been trying to see that the owners complied with regulation and rules concerning the removal of coal from the mountains. Also as a mining inspector he held the right to close a mine for safety violations’ in which he may have felt danger for the miners. Coming from working in coal mines Scanlan, knew the dangers of free flowing dust that was building up on the walls. There was 2,000 of coal produced a day from the Centralia Coal Mine about 14.000.000, ton a week. (7days)
Was the money earned truly worth the taking of so many lives? These 111 men who probably only knew the work of the coal mine had given their trust to Bell & Zoeller and Mr. Scanlan.
Both of whom let them and their families down. Once Mr. Scanlan saw he was not receiving the cooperation needed, for the safety of the men he should have closed the mine, authority was in his hands.
Scanlan should have addressed the Logistic of communication, corruption, responsibility and time. He understood about his appointment, that big business was lining the pockets of those in power of government leadership. Scanlan had a hard time communicating with those in the leadership roles and could have done something about the Centralia No. 5. Most importantly was the fact that it took much time for a response to the situation at the mine. Mr. Scanlan did try to communicate the importance of repairing the violation of the mines, wanting the men to be able to work in safe conditions instead of the disaster waiting happen they worked in. Although Mr.
Scanlan had the power, why, did he not shut the mine down? Was the lack of communication that strong for Scanlan to overlook the fact that the Officers of the mine union had expressed their concerns about the safety hazards? Removing excessive rock dust and using clay and watering down may have prevented so many lives from being taken. To make a thought that could make matters worse is the fact that these men were paid with company scrip instead of cash
So the families were left with nothing. Scrip’s could only be spent at the company store where the miners were charged double for just the staples need every day. There were no