Boulby potash miner John Anderson killed in 'gas blowout'

Boulby potash mine Image copyright Google
Image caption The mine makes potash for fertiliser

A man has died in an underground accident at a potash mine in East Cleveland - one of Europe's deepest.

Worker John Anderson, 56, was killed by a "sudden and powerful release of gas" at the Boulby mine early on Friday, owners ICL UK said.

No-one else was hurt and there was no explosion at the 1,400m deep mine.

In April seven workers were injured when after a fire broke out at the mine, which has tunnels deep under the North Sea.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop has called for an investigation.

The mine makes potash for fertilisers and employs about 1,100 people about 100 of whom were underground at the time of the incident.

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Mr Anderson, from Easington, had worked at the site for 35 years.

A company spokesman said: "The incident is believed to have involved a gas blowout - a sudden and powerful release of gas.

"Her Majesty's Mines Inspectorate has been informed.

"Company staff will be offering all possible support to the man's family. All other workers in the mine at the time of the incident were safely evacuated."

Mr Blenkinsop said: "The miner who died in the explosion was one of my constituents who lived in East Cleveland.

"We cannot allow this death to go unmarked. Over the last decade and a half, the mine has been a safe working environment, certainly compared to years past where accidents were more frequent.

"However, in the space of just a few months we have seen two tragic incidents. I am concerned that this must not become a pattern.

"Mines legislation requires a full investigation, and I need to be reassured that this will indeed happen.

"I would also want to be reassured that recent redundancies at the mine have not altered day to day working practices to the extent that risk may have been allowed to creep back in."

Mr Blenkinsop said he was intending to meet senior mine management from ICL Ltd and the mine's unions.

Simon Hunter, a safety manager at ICL UK, said the previous incidents were unrelated to what caused the death of Mr Anderson.

He also said any suggestions that job losses had impacted on safety were "misconstrued".

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