TO the editor.
Sir — With your permission I would like to say a. few words on the correspondence re tlie Kaitangata explosion, although with considerable reluctance, feeling myself muoh in the position of a school-boy finding fault with the doings of his master. As to the origin of the correspondence, and the end it is supposed to serve, I will say nothing further than that I liave doubts as to the honesty of purpose. How can Mr Ritchie speak so lightly of the trifling quantity if gas found in tho new workings, when we find that before gas was ever found or known to exist in our shaft Mr Jarvie was seriously burned, and his mining companions were being repeatedly morning after morning, sent home because they could not work on account of the fire-damp % He also speaks of the considerable quantity of fire-damp met with in our shaft ; but I chall-mge Mr Ritchie or any other gentleman to find fire-damp in our coal workings. That our shaft gives off gas I don't deny : I never tried to hide the existence of such. But "if our shaft and workings were full of gas to the pit-mouth, it could not contain one cubic foot to five tli*„fc was found in the upper mine during iho time the men were being sent home, and that, too, before gas was known to exist in our mine. Yet, it is only a trifling quantity ! Besides, we find the Company had ordered safetylamps, barometer, and anemometer two months before coal was tapped in our shaft. Yet the gas all comes from the under mine.
Again, as a proof of the non-existence of gas in the old workings, we are told a party of gentleman examined them on 25th December last — from from top to bottom, bear in mind. That the said parties went into the extremity of the old level with naked lights, and found no gas. Of that I have little doubt ; but then they were travelling in the main air-way. If they had struck out from the level into any of the inside rise headings, the result perhaps would have been different. Further, to have examined the whole workings from top to bottom would have required the services of a ladder or pole twenty-five feet long, which, .fortunately for them, they did not posses.
Let us ponder a moment over this socalled third theory advanced as the cause of the sad catastrophe, and which now, for the first time, has been made public - x'y/,., that the gas came from the under
mine. Take for granted that the coal to the dip of the Kaitangata Railway and Coal Co.'s mine generated more gas than that where they were working— a circumstance yet to be proved, although Doctor Hector set it down as proved by myself being burned. Our drive was not within 100 ft. of tapping the coal, and had been idle for seven weeks. The quantity of gas accumulated was so small, that if it had been in an ordinary sized drive it would have scarcely been felt. That the drainage of the ground by our shaft would cause free communication through the fault (which it must have done if the theory is correct) is something new to me at least, or any authority it has been my good fortune to consult. The supposition generally is, that where an extensive fault was found to exist it always acted as a barrier to gas or water ; and that it does so there is abundance of proof in almost every mining distiict, Kaitangata not excepted. Take Mi* Ritchie's .own words, " No gas was seen in the old workings previous to their be abandoned ; also, the growth of water was comparatively small. But when they tapped the coal, "through the fault existing betwecen the old and new working, they had an increased supply of water and a trifling quantity of fire-damp." Yet here, is our mine to the dip of the old workings, distance about 500 yards horizontal measurement, and about 450 below their level, backed by the supposed existence of a heavy fault draining the water from the upper mine and supptying in return fire-damp ! And yet the old workings to the dip of the new, with only a few feet between them, drained neither water nor gas ! But allow me to inform your correspondents that the drainage of the upper mine by our shaft is a pure imbrication, clearly proved by the water being stun loured in tlie dip workings of tho said mine, of which I personally had ample proof during my late explorations of the mine in search of the body of Archibald Hodge. Further, we had no cessation of pumping during the interval that elapsed between the -tapping of coal in our shaft and the explosion, the only stoppage being after tlie explosion for seventy-four hours, and even then the ventilation was not blocked in our shaft. Mr Twinning never was in the old workings prior to, nor since' the explosion, and being one of the others referred to with myself, I am enabled to state we wero not so far into the rise workings as where Mr'Binns, along with Mr Irvine and myself, found the gas, and consequently could not say whether gas existed in that part of the mine on our previous visit. Again, Mr Bii >ns is reported to have examined the the old workings on the 2f*th January, and found no gas. But according to Mr Binns' own showing, he was only at the bottom of the second heading or main airway, he not being inclined to go further without a safety lamp. But supposing our colliery to be such a vast gasometer (which, considering we work with naked lights, is highly improbable), always read}-" to flow from every crevice whenever an opportunity occurs, and that it flowed in abundance from us into the old workings above, it would have been impossible for it to accumulate in a body, or even reach the part where gas was found, as along the main level was a series of stoppings which forced the scattered current into the extremity of the level, and returned by the boundary workings to the. air-shaft in a confined body — the air-shaft being on the boundary line — so that gas given off from tho dip workings would at once be swept up tho return air-shaft before being able to accumulate ; which of itself is sufficient to prove the fallacy of such an absurd theory. And coming too from such an authority to try to prove that the gas did not originate in the workings whoro found is simply making bad worse. There is abundance of proof to show that gas generated in the workings on either side, and why not in the centre, it being one and the same seam ] As for the appearance of gas again after the explosion, it must be borne in mind that ventilation has never been restored, and therefore every opportunity has been offered for the collection of such. Hoping you will find room for this rather lengthy epistle. — I am, &c, W. M. Shore.
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TO the editor., Clutha Leader, Volume V, Issue 290, 21 March 1879
TO the editor. Clutha Leader, Volume V, Issue 290, 21 March 1879
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