The collapse of the mine in Bursa that resulted in the death of 19 miners has put the notion of 'lethal neglect' in the mining industry on Turkey’s agenda. It was reported that official inspections were made without visiting mining sites because there are only three inspectors for the mines of Turkey, which number over 10,000.
The collapsed mine in the Mustafapaşa district of Bursa on Dec. 10 revealed that neglect was the cause of death for 19 miners, a responsibility that belonged, not only to the owner, but also to the government.
The mine received its license in 1986, but mining was halted in 2006, after inspectors detected deficiencies in the mine’s ability to function. However, permission to be reopened was issued without a follow-up inspection. Therefore, the mine was reopened with the owner’s consent, without fixing the existing problems.
Moreover, production was halted on paper but continued in reality during the six-month period that was granted to the mine owners to correct the deficiencies. Standard procedure follows that a note be sent to the Ministry of Labor for an inspection to see whether the mine would pass safety standard before reopening, this process was also neglected.
The document from the Ministry of the Energy and Natural Sources to grant permission for the reopening of mines lacks the necessary technical on-site examination report. However, the report is there for the document on halting production. While it is clear that it is meaningless to grant permission without an on-site inspection, this is known to be routine because the directorate for such inspections employs only three personnel to cover all the country’s mines. Officials from the ministry said this allows for mining sites in Turkey to be inspected once every five years, as there are more than 10,000 mines in the country.
The Chamber of Mining Engineers revealed that the number of mining engineers who should be present in every shift was not sufficient when the collapse occurred. The chamber warned that such an incident could happen anywhere in Turkey at anytime due to the lack of proper inspections, and the chamber suggested that a detailed risk map be prepared. Inspections should be actualized according to that. The chamber of Mining Engineers said: “Enough! Stop the employment murders.”
Mehmet Soğancı, president of the Acting Board for the Turkish Union of Engineers’ and Architects’ Chambers, or TMMOB, said the collapse was caused by unprofessional measures. “Accidents of this kind are not acts of God. We, as the chamber, do not label those as industrial accidents, this is an industrial murder.” TMMOB canceled the activities to be held on the World Miners’ day in honor of the 19 dead miners.
Okay Erözgün, president for Tüm Sağlık Sen, a health union, said Parliament should look into the matter and prevent future disasters of this kind.
Fahrettin Çolpan, general manager of the mine, employee Bayram Erdoğan and operating manager Hayrettin Çelik were arrested after questioning at the courthouse. The Mustafakemalpaşa Prosecutor’s Office has accused them of “neglecting duty and causing the death of more than one person due to negligence.”