The science and main causes of mining disasters, and a closer look at specific mining accidents, including the 1913 Senghenhydd Pit Disaster, the 1966 Aberfan Disaster, the 1972 Honkeiko Colliery, the 1975 Chasnala Mine Disaster and the Springhill Mining Disasters. Also mining disasters in the news and pop culture.

Music: “Whistle While You Work” by Comedian Harmonists

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Showing 22 comments
  • Samson

    Is your pronounciation of “debris” a Canadian thing? I’ve only heard it like “debrée”

    • Joe

      Toren thinks it’s funny to intentionally mispronounce various words the way they’re spelled. You’ll also hear him call “manslaughter” “man’s laughter”.

    • thickets

      A girl named Debris broke my heart once.

  • Hywel Kirwan

    I listened to today’s show with a lot of trepidation, as my uncle was on of the last children to be pulled out of the wreckage of the Aberfan mining disaster alive. I laughed like a drain through the entire show! God bless Caustic Soda!!!!!!!!!

    • thickets

      Re: uncle – wow! Re: laughing drain – weird!

  • TheSynStalker

    I was hoping to hear Digging Up the World… 🙁

    • Drhoz

      darn, that WOULD have ideal!

  • Derek

    I remember when the Beaconsfield disaster occurred. Every couple of hours I and plenty of others were checking the news sires to see if they’d made any more progress. I think that’s why the Chilean one was such a big deal too – it was very easy to get caught up in the drama of it all, as callous as that sounds.

    On a separate note, as a callback to the faeces episode, one of the leads in the Beaconsfield tele-movie, Shane Jacobson, was Kenny in the mockumentary by the same name, where he went around the world as a poo engineer, in typical Australian style. Worth checking out. 🙂

    Great ep guys.

    PS, Joe, I’m glad you explained the debris thing. Sometimes it feels like you guys have forgotten you’re saying as debriss ironically, you (Toren, Kevin, I’m looking at you) mispronounce it so easily. 🙂

  • Lars

    When you mentioned parents preventing their children from going into coal mining, my mind went straight to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPSzPGrazPo
    Re: firedamp, I think the damp part comes from the German Dampf=vapour, not dämpfen=to dampen.

    • Generaleesimo

      I wonder if that’s why Nightcrawler’s vapour cloud makes the sound BAMPF!?!? Now, I am positive that’s actually an onomatopoeia, right?

  • pluckyblond

    I thought for sure you would bring up the Centralia, Pennsylvania mining fire of 1962. The city of Centralia was abandoned and the fire is still burning today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia,_Pennsylvania

    • TheSynStalker

      Centralia was covered in the Ghost Towns episode.

  • Derek

    Was I the only person with pictures of Lemmings (the game) running around in my head during this episode?

    I occasionally got images of Boulderdash, but it’s been such a long time since I’ve thought of the game I’m not sure.

    Also, I know you guys didn’t cover all the material you had to hand, so I was wondering if there were any open cut mine disasters? All of thrones you discussed we’re underground mines.

    If you was to dispose of ‘something’ I’ve heard the opal mine shafts around Coober Pedy and Andamooka (where my bro lives) in South Australia are pretty popular, in a very caustic way.

  • Gina Danger

    Just because I’m Nova Scotian, I was glad you’d mentioned the Springhill Mining disasters. (Another Springhill disaster… Anne Murray?)

    There have been a metric tonne of mining disasters in NS, but two of the more notable ones aside from Springhill were the Moose River Gold Mine disaster and the Westray Coal Mine Disaster. The Moose River disaster in 1936 wasn’t notable for the number of people involved (only 3) but the six day rescue mission was one of the most widely broadcast events of the first half of the 20th century. Frank Willis broadcast a live update every half hour for 69 hours and the event was aired on over 700 different radio stations, some as far away as Europe.

    The Westray Mine disaster in 1992 killed 26 miners and was a cornerstone event for national legislation that would hold actual people liable for workplace injuries, rather than the corporations they work for. It’s all fun and games until somebody sues Toren for an unsafe work environment rather than CausticSodaCo.

    **Stops pretending to be an encyclopedia and waves NS Flag**

  • Arthur

    I wonder if you guys have played the game Dwarf Fortress? the lemming-like dwarf colony that you create tends to have a LOT of mining disasters, including, I believe, byakhee-like creatures flying up the shafts into your dormitories

    • Joe

      Dwarf Fortress was in our research, but even I (the resident video game nerd) couldn’t wrap my head around the damned thing. It’s like some arcane language that you have to learn before you can play, and even then you’re DOOOOMED.

      I could have brought it up and some stories I found online, but mostly I’d have said “It’s got mining and disasters, or so they tell me”. For people on the outside Dwarf Fortress is unfathomable.

      Minecraft’s easier to get — everyone can understand punching trees to get wood, right?

  • Michael Morrisson

    Awesome episode gents, but I was shocked… SHOCKED I say, that you missed the Lake Peigneur salt mine accident which drained an entire lake!

    Perhaps this was covered in another episode, but on the off chance you just didn’t come across it in your research, or your interns didn’t (in which case I recommend a thorough flogging) I thought I’d share all the same.

    • Jeff Stuart

      I watched that one as well. I was also SHOCKED they didn’t cover it, but it wasn’t caused by mining; it was caused by drilling, so I figured it would be on the Drilling episode. It really is bizarre and scary though. Like being caught in the world’s biggest draining sink. Good pull though.

    • toren

      I recall we discussed that previously but not sure if it was the sinkholes or some other ep

      • Michael Morrisson

        Ah. Oh well. I’ll have to track it down then. Side note though: how’d you like to be the guy who forgot to carry the one and then drained a lake?! Holy shit… I feel like you’d either have to just totally own it and be like “I fucking drained an entire lake once. What have YOU dine with your klife?” Or it would just give you PTSD for the rest of your life but only when doing math.

  • Michael Morrisson

    I feel you could reasonably make the stretch to call this a mining disaster, but let’s be honest here: given the epicness of this disaster, any stretch would be worth it to cover it.

  • zuzu

    I can’t believe the hate for Stuart McLean 🙁 it’s like being punched right in the childhood.