One miner dead, one missing after salt mine roof collapse in Louisiana

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One miner has died and one is still missing after a salt mine roof collapsed in Louisiana on Monday, the mine’s operator said.

Cargill, the food production company, said in a statement its Avery Island salt mine experienced a roof collapse as 18 employees were working there Monday morning.

After initially reporting that two employees were unaccounted for, the company reported Tuesday that they had found the body of one of the workers.

“Cargill is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in our community,” the company said in a statement, adding that it could “confirm that this morning the rescue team recovered one of the missing miners who was fatally injured in the accident.

We are continuing to do everything we can to locate the other team member with whom we have not had contact since the accident.”

The company reported that two were unaccounted for on Monday evening, and it was working with the Mine Safety and Health Administration to respond to the incident.

The other 16 employees present during the collapse were evacuated and did not experience injuries.

“We are working around the clock with the Mine Safety and Health Administration to safely complete the rescue efforts,” the statement continued. “We care about our teammates and have professional grief counselors on site at our facility who will be available to our team as needed. The safety and well-being of our colleagues is our top priority. We are grieving with the community as we face this loss together.”

Mine Safety and Health Administration records reviewed by The Acadiana Advocate indicate that federal inspectors issued more than 50 safety citations this year at the mine located about 30 miles south of Lafayette. 

Cargill, which operates three mines in the U.S., was cited for most of those violations.

An inspection that began last month found four violations involving self-rescue devices for underground employees. In September, federal inspectors identified violations associated with emergency stop devices for conveyors, hazardous waste, unattended equipment and staff training, according to the Advocate. 

In an earlier statement, Cargill denied the violations were related to the incident.

“While we are still investigating the cause of today’s roof collapse, there is no indication it is related to the inspection issues identified in the recent MSHA citations,” its statement said.

The Avery Island salt mine, which has been in operation since the mid-1800s, produces salt used to deice roads in the winter in the U.S. and Canada.

Updated on Tuesday at 4:09 p.m.

Tags Cargill Louisiana mine missing salt mine

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