July 29, 2008

Russian TV Criticizes Embattled Metals Company for Violating Safety Rules

As the result of an explosion and fire at a mine belonging to Russian metals and mining company Mechel, 17 people have been injured, four of whom are in a serious condition in intensive care, Russian Defence Ministry controlled Zvezda TV reported on 29 July.

This is another stain on the reputation of the company, which now faces new court trials, the correspondent said. Only a few days ago the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Monitoring (Rostekhnadzor) finished an inspection of the company. The inspection was carried out precisely because of the increasing number of accidents at its mines. The correspondent recalled that five people had died when the roof of a mine collapsed on 30 May. After the inspection Rostekhnadzor allowed the company to carry out work in the mine. The Kemerovo Region authorities accused the service of a "superficial attitude" towards the check, but Rostekhnadzor claims the opposite: it has ordered the company to eliminate safety violations on more than one occasion, but Mechel has not acted on them, the report said.

"They reduce the risk of accidents only for the time when Rostekhnadzor is carrying out inspections of their mines. In other words, the owners need to exercise constant supervision and control over their mines, because an inspector from Rostekhnadzor cannot breathe down the neck of each miner, each engineer or company manager," Rostekhnadzor press secretary Yevgeniy Anoshin said in a telephone interview with Zvezda TV.

Russian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Chayka has referred to the situation at the company as "outrageous", the report said, adding that the Investigations Committee under the Prosecutor-General's Office had already started investigating whether the company had committed criminal offences.

Originally published by Zvezda TV, Moscow, in Russian 1400 29 Jul 08.

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