Tejbus: Handlova Mining Tragedy Not Due to Act of God, But Human Factor

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Bratislava, December 21 (TASR) – The explosion at Handlova Coal Mine (Trencin region) that claimed the lives of 20 people on August 10, 2009 wasn’t caused by an act of God, but by the human factor, former head of the Central Mining Office’s (HBU) mining safety department Vladimir Tejbus has told TASR.

“It is provable, based on evidence gathered in an investigation file, that the blast wasn’t necessarily caused by a lethal occupational accident involving miners and rescuers at all. This evidence documents not only the blast itself, but also the course of the accident, which was in fact different from that described in the expert opinion of the District Mining Office in Prievidza. Three relatively independent extraordinary events occurred down Handlova mine. These were a concentration of carbon monoxide at a level higher than 0.013 percent, a mining fire and an explosion,” stressed Tejbus, adding that if all the safety regulations had been followed, the tragedy might not have happened.

Tejbus wasn’t allowed to speak about the real causes of the mining tragedy at Handlova for several years. “For the whole period after I found out what actually happened in Handlova Mine and I informed the HBU chairman of my opinion, I was exposed to various forms of pressure. Despite this, I dared to put my opinion on paper in HBU’s individual files, as well as directly in a report from our advisory committee and in a stance that was sent to the Economy Ministry’s supervisory committee. However, nothing has happened, and nobody was really interested in the truth,” stressed Tejbus.

The police have resumed an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the tragedy. Based on a district prosecutor’s order, an investigator of the District Police Directorate in Prievidza launched a criminal prosecution concerning the crime of obstructing justice, Trencin Regional Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Marian Sipavy confirmed for TASR. The investigation hasn’t yet been completed.

The resolution on launching the criminal prosecution is available to TASR. It states that “the offender as an employee of the Central Mining Office by his orders, while elaborating a report on findings, influenced the work of an advisory committee”.

TV Markiza was the first to point to the resumption of the investigation. According to the TV channel, the actual causes of the tragedy failed to make it into the committee’s conclusions due to an intervention by HBU chairman Peter Kukelcik. HBU has rejected these accusations.

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