Soma mining accident report proposals disregarded: CHP deputy

Soma mining accident report proposals disregarded: CHP deputy

Soma mining accident report proposals disregarded: CHP deputy

CHP Manisa deputy Özgür Özel (R) visits the Soma miners who are protesting the non-payment of their compensation. DHA photo

None of the proposals suggested in the report on the Soma mining disaster of May 2014 have been taken into consideration in any laws passed since the tragedy, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Manisa deputy Özgür Özel has said.

“What will those who ignored the reports say to the people when the next disaster happens? If the suggestions of the parliamentary investigation committee’s reports been taken into consideration in 2010, the Soma disaster would never have happened. If lessons had been taken from Soma, Ermenek would never have happened either. We are still not taking lessons,” said Özel, who was among the 17 deputies to prepare a detailed report on the mining accident in the western Turkish district of Soma in May 2014.

“Another disaster will happen and we will again shed crocodile tears,” he added, stressing that 17 deputies from four parties prepared the report by working day and night after inspecting mines across the country.

Turkey was hit by its biggest ever mining accident on May 13, 2014 when a fire broke out inside a mine in the Manisa province’s Soma district, resulting in the death of 301 miners. Only six months after the accident in Soma, a mine in the Central Anatolian province of Konya’s Ermenek district was flooded by water that had built up in an unused old mining gallery. The bodies of the 18 miners killed in the accident were still being found two months after the accident.

CHP deputy Özel, who had warned of safety conditions in Soma before the disaster there last year, said no steps had been taken since the tragedy to prevent worker deaths.

“Some 50,000 workers are currently working in mines across the country. What happened to our vows after Soma? Since then nothing has been done to prevent miner deaths. Now, all we can do is pray for them before we go to bed. Were you making fun of us by not taking this report into consideration? We can see that we have been fooled by the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP,” he said.

However, Ali Rıza Alaboyun, the president of the Soma Disaster Investigation Commission in parliament, said the report had “no applicable effect” in terms of its occupational safety advantages.

“Certainly there are other things to be done. A coal law should be enacted and coal gas permeability should be monitored. I have spoken with the prime minister and he said a ministry and a private undersecretariat would be founded on the subject,” said Alaboyun, adding that the reason for the delay was due to the electoral period.

The suggestions mentioned in Soma report include the formation of a mining ministry, a revision of the mine law and authorization conditions, the importance of determining the existence of methane and draining all methane from mines, the passing of a coal production occupational health and safety law, and imprisonment for employers who violate shutdown decisions.

Meanwhile, Özel also said he has heard rumors about the transfer of the hearing into the Soma mine disaster away from Manisa to Ankara.

“Recently, we learned that the hearing is planned to be moved to Ankara, due to emotional reactions from the families and potential demonstrations. I am extremely concerned about this. Any transfer of the hearing would mean the transfer of justice. I will submit a parliamentary question about this issue,” he said.

The first hearing into the disaster is set to be held on April 13, after a Manisa court accepted an indictment of charges against 45 people suspected of responsibility for the accident. The case will include 436 people as witnesses, 162 miners affected by smoke as victims and 437 relatives of killed miners as complainants.