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Ethylene Detected In August 2018. CW 6 North Goonyella Health Safety Training Manager. US Class Action Filings

Ethylene detected in August 2018. CW 6 North Goonyella Health Safety Training Manager. US Class Action Filings

2021-03-19 – 0038 PEABODY ENERGY – AMENDED COMPLAINT (3023799.1) (1)

Again all the times CW-6 is mentioned have been collated.

This is the first time that I am aware of that the confirmed presence of Ethylene is mentioned anywhere before September 2018

98. However, according to CW-6, the plan was not followed and there were specific shortcomings in the preparation phase during when gas levels are taken and the seals are prepared, responsibilities that belonged to Dennis Black (North Goonyella’s Ventilation Officer). CW-6 advised that the first seal had not even been prepared when the longwall had already been moved halfway

102. CW-6 explained that in August 2018, there had been readings of ethylene, which at minute levels serves as a warning as it is not common in mines. According to CW-6, he heard that in August 2018, there was an Ethylene reading of 1 ppm (an Ethylene reading of 5 ppm triggers an immediate mine evacuation). CW-6 added that the danger with Ethylene is that it is not easy to ascertain how much time from its emergence there is before an event occurs.

65. CW-6 was an employee of Peabody from before the Class Period until August 2019, most recently as the Health Safety Training Manager.22 Prior to that, CW-6 worked as an underground operator in a contracted position at the North Goonyella mine for several years.

Following the North Goonyella “spontaneous combustion” (referred to herein as “spon com”), CW-6 was assigned to the Incident Management Team (“IMT”) at North Goonyella and served as the scribe for that team.

4 Peabody Failed to Properly Staff North Goonyella and Properly Train Its Mine Personnel

  1. According to CW-6, the issues at North Goonyella mine extended much further back than the 2018 spon com (spontaneous combustion) event. According to CW-6, layoffs at North Goonyella in 2015 cut “most of the meat” leaving North Goonyella starved of leadership. CW-6 stated that in the wake of the cuts in 2015, which included many management positions at the mine, the number of contractors went “way up” and the workload tripled. According to CW6, key mine positions remained vacant long after the workload ramped up. CW-6 noted that the Health and Safety group consisted of 12 people when he first started, but had been whittled down to only three people. CW-6 recalled it being very difficult to keep up with training during this time period.
  1. CW-6 brought up the staffing issues during the Safety and Way of Life (“SAWL”) audits in 2016 and 2017. CW-6 specifically recalled showing Ian Humphris (former VP Health Safety and Environment) a list of issues and Humphris agreed about the need for additional managerial support at North Goonyella. CW-6 explained that due to the shortness of staff, employees in management positions were regularly working 14 plus hour days, which broke fatigue rules. CW-6 recalled Marek Romanski (then Underground Mine Manager at North Goonyella) clocking out of his shift and then going back to work in order to circumvent the fatigue rules. CW-6 advised that this continued for years with upper management saying that the North Goonyella staff was working too much, but failing to provide additional support.

92. CW-6 explained that another key decision that was detrimental to the operations at North Goonyella was replacing Site Senior Executive (“SSE”) Michael Carter with John Anger in April 2018. CW-6 advised that Carter was retained at North Goonyella, but Anger was appointed as the most senior member of the mine. CW-6 explained that Anger lacked the technical background of Carter and that CW-6 was “concerned” about Anger’s lack of experience in underground mines. CW-6 added that ultimately it was Anger’s job to ensure the health and safety of the mine as the most senior mine official.

97. CW-6 explained that between August 21, 2018 and August 28, 2018, the staff at Peabody failed to appropriately follow the Sealing Management Plan, a plan that CW-6 advised they had executed multiple times. CW-6 recalled that the most recent longwall move, when Michael Carter was still the SSE, had been the “most successful longwall move in North Goonyella history” and the August 2018 move was operating under the same plan, but with minor modifications.

98. However, according to CW-6, the plan was not followed and there were specific shortcomings in the preparation phase during when gas levels are taken and the seals are prepared, responsibilities that belonged to Dennis Black (North Goonyella’s Ventilation Officer). CW-6 advised that the first seal had not even been prepared when the longwall had already been moved halfway. CW-6 explained that the first seal occurs in the tailgate, which is the gassiest portion of the mine and labor should have been allocated to this task. CW-6 explained that “longwall makes the money” and the desire to get the move done quickly and a lack of coordination and leadership contributed to the incorrect and dangerous sequence of events.

101. CW-6 advised that he heard others at the mine had evidence of “spon com” occurring prior to the August 28, 2018 readings. According to CW-6, there are two different devices that read gas levels in the mine, one is a real-time reader, which only picks up four different gases and the other, the “tube bundle,” completes readings for a wider array of gases over an approximately 20-minute cycle.

102. CW-6 explained that in August 2018, there had been readings of ethylene, which at minute levels serves as a warning as it is not common in mines. According to CW-6, he heard that in August 2018, there was an Ethylene reading of 1 ppm (an Ethylene reading of 5 ppm triggers an immediate mine evacuation). CW-6 added that the danger with Ethylene is that it is not easy to ascertain how much time from its emergence there is before an event occurs.

104. According to CW-6, he was aware that on August 28, 2018, the mine reached a Level 3 trigger due to heightened gas readings and that workers wanted to evacuate the mine at that point instead of waiting for the gas readings to reach a Level 4.

112. CW-6 advised that neither he, John Anger (SSE) nor Steven Stook (Tech Services Manager) were onsite from August 31 – September 2, 2018, and that he did not receive a prompt to check the automated messages from the mine that would have informed him of that the Level 4 trigger had been reached (indicating high carbon monoxide levels and oxidation) on September 3, 2018.

114. CW-6 recalled that on September 3rd when he returned to the mine, SSE John Anger distributed duty cards which defined employees’ new roles as part of the Incident Management Team (“IMT”). CW-7 corroborated that after the evacuation, everyone received “duty cards” that described their new roles under these unique circumstances.

115. CW-6 recalled that from September 3rd to September 28th, he and his colleagues were working 20-hour days for months on the “front lines.”

8. Peabody Mishandles “Heating Event” at North Goonyella Mine Which Threatens the Operation of the Whole Mine

120. CW-6 worked ten consecutive days from September 3rd to September 13th, once it was determined by SSE Anger that 24-hour coverage of the mine was necessary. According to CW-6, during this time, he worked with: (i) Charles Lilly (Senior Director – Engineering) who was sent from Peabody HQ in Saint Louis, (ii) Robin Hall, (Senior Manager Program and Systems Training) and (iii) Lee Earnshaw (Development Coordinator

121. CW-6 recalled a desire to get back into the mine and that he had to “physically stop” Mike Carter from planning work. CW-6 advised that he stopped the mine from planning and conducting any work until it was known exactly what the ramifications of the event were. CW-6 referred to himself as the “driver” of the stoppage, citing the concern that the fire may have been an “environmental disaster” with serious risks if work resumed too early. CW-6 recalled a lot of tension around the toxicology and environmental issues surrounding the fire.

124.CW-6 explained that in early September 2018, when he returned to the mine, Peabody was using the Transition TARP, which did not make sense because the mine was not prepared for this action and not a single seal was complete.

125. CW-6 spoke with Lee Earnshaw (Development Coordinator) about Peabody’s use of the Transition TARP which he felt was the incorrect choice. CW-6 also explained that for a longwall there are two TARPs: (i) one for when the mine is producing which focuses on the gases emitted; and (ii) one for when it is not producing, which focuses on the safety of the workers. There also is a Transition TARP, which is only instituted when all five seals are built and the doors to the mine are about to be closed and the Seal Up TARP which is followed once mine gases normalize.

126. CW-6 advised that he and Earnshaw approached Control Room Operator Jimmy Green about this issue, and Green showed them an e-mail from August 21, 2018 from Marek Romanski to the control room stating, “time to crossover to the transition TARP.”

127. CW-6 stated that Explosion Risk Zone (“ERZ”) Officers, who are responsible for taking gas samples, had allegedly failed to collect samples from the tube bundle for an entire week, which CW-6 believes could have been due to the confusion surrounding their responsibilities during the TARP change and may have been why these individuals were hesitant to speak with investigators in fear of admitting responsibility. CW-6 explained that ERZ Officer is a statutory position with a legal obligation to inspect where the miners are working.

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