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Centralia Explosion Essay

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March 25, 1947 started off as a regular day. 111 men some husbands, fathers or even both kissed their wives and children goodbye to go off to work, not knowing that would be there last kiss to their loved ones. As the men went throughout their normal work day at No. 5 Coal Mine, they looked forward to quitting time and reuniting with their loved ones. Woefully, this would never come to past. Catastrophe struck at 3:27. 111 lives were slayed out by a colossal explosion. Paramedics, firemen and policemen gathered at the scene in efforts to rescue wounded coalminers.

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There were 142 men at the site. 65 were killed by burns and other injuries and 45 were killed by afterdamp.

Eight men were rescued, but one died from the effects of afterdamp. Only 24 miners escaped. (Centralia IL Mine Disaster). Who is responsible for this you ask? Majority feel the blame was that of Medill and his administrators as well as the Federal and State government. Others feel Scanlan could have done more to prevent this disaster after all he did have authority to shut the mine down. I will identify and explain four logistical alternatives Scanlan could have addressed, Analyze and discuss Scanlan’s motivation toward the Constitution (the law), bureaucracy (as a public administrator responsible to the public), and obligation and discuss different actions that Scanlan could have taken.

One logistical alternative Scanlon could have addressed was when he reported those findings of a possible explosion to other professional but all failed to follow safety procedures and allowed the men to continue with the job. Instead of listening to Robert Medill the director of the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals, Scanlan Should have directly reported his findings to the Governor of Illinois, the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the State Mine Board to ensure safety measures and further infestations were established .Also, Scanlan should have developed some type of fail-safe or escape route. By having an alternate route, this would have given the coal miners another way out or at least preserve their lives until they could be helped. An escape strategy addresses the equipping and training of the miners to be able to self-escape under adverse and hazardous conditions in the coal mine and also how they help others escape a hazardous condition (Fmshrc.org). Furthermore as an inspector, Scanlan could have removed the miners from exposures to hazardous conditions. According to section 107(a) of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

It provides orders to t immediately remove miners from exposure to serious hazards and to prevent miners from entering such hazardous areas, an imminent danger must be impending at the time an order is issued (MSHA.gov). In addition to these alternatives, Scanlan also could have encouraged the miners to construct a peaceful protest to improve their work conditions. (Garvey, G., 1997) If the workers would refuse to come to work because of the threat on their lives due to the harsh work conditions, authorities would have no other choice but to fix the problems in order to get the miners to come back to work. Lastly, Scanlan ordered the miners to work four days and clean 3 of the days. (Stillman, 2010) He could have strictly enforced this rule. He should of made the miners clean the site continuously and not just for a certain time period. By having the miners clean the sit weekly it would have eliminated the amount of coal dust build up ultimately preventing the explosion.

Moreover, I will analyze and discuss Scanlans motivation towards the Constitution, Bureaucracy and obligation. I feel like he had no morals to the Constitution because if he did he would’ve been motivated enough to go down there every day and make sure that the miners were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing, as far as the up keep of the mine. Writing reports and inspecting the mine was just half of the job. If he could talk the big game of informing the miners of how their lives were in danger and instructing them to work the mine four days and clean the rest he could have taken a bigger step in his actions. Because words and reports aren’t a shadow of your character your actions and deeds are.

His actions led to the deaths of over a hundred people. As far as his motivation to the bureaucracy as a public administrator, he knew exactly what needed to be done and he stood by writing and reporting his daily findings, while those men’s lives continued to be in danger. The miners and all citizens count on its government and public officials to have their best interests at heart and inform them of any issues or concerns that threaten work or living conditions. Scanlan only performed the surface duties of an inspector. Those were inspecting the site daily, taking note of the findings and reporting them to higher officials. Scanlan lacked responsibility; he did not penetrate the surface enough to find profound solutions to the problem.

Finally, I will take a position on two possible paths of action for Scanlan. If Scanlan felt that he couldn’t keep the miners under control or keep them following his protocol, as far as keeping the mine clean on continual bases he should have stepped down. He did set in the rules that the coal dust was unbearable and instructed the miners to work four days and clean three days of the week, but I feel he only implemented those rules and wrote reports to cover his job. Secondly, Scanlon should have just stepped up to the plate. He should have followed up on all of those infractions he saw every day. After all he was still conducting his inspections daily, while writing those reports he should have been making the miners clean the coalfield. As an inspector he is responsible for making sure those infractions that he reported daily were up to par and he did not.

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