Interview with Aleksandr Sergeev

Aleksandr Sergeev, the Head of the Independent Miners Trade Union, joined Russia Today to comment on the blast in the mine in Western Siberia and the overall situation in coal mining.

Russia Today: This is the second incident that has occurred in the last two months. It is a re-occurring matter. Can you tell us why this keeps happening?

Aleksandr Sergeev:Well, first of all the natural factor cannot be excluded altogether. Methane is a natural component of coal fields and it will always be there. Coal production will always have to deal with it, not just in Russia but in other countries. The more coal you extract the more methane will be diffused from coal-beds. Therefore it just must be drawn out. Another reason is the current situation in coal production, the lack of legislative framework which would forbid coal production without obligatory decontamination of mines and extraction of methane from mines. The third reason is the conflict between coal miners and their chiefs, who turn a blind eye on the questions of safety because of the current system of payment. I want to say that this tragedy occurred at a wrong time, because serious decisions are beeing made. The law on obligatory decontamination of the mines is being drafted. The company which produces coal in this mine has increased wages. Miners have started to receive better wages disregarding the volumes of coal production. I dare to say that this tragedy is a shot from the past.

RT: So you really think this kind of accident could be avoided if the technical misuse is looked after?

A.S.: They can be minimized. Sudden eruptions and explosions of methane cannot be excluded completely because they have a natural origin. We cannot also exclude the human factor, because a miner works deep underground which is unnatural for a human being. It's still possible to minimize it, taking into account the solutions on obligatory extraction of methane from mines and the ban on the production before decontamination of such mines, being urgently drafted together with the changes in the payment system. These decisions have not been implemented yet, so I insist that the current tragedy is a shot from the past.

RT: The  Russian technical standards watchdog Rostechnadzor