Comments: 697 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

wondrland151 karma

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy pepperoni rolls?

AquaWolf9461159 karma

I say 9. I love pepperoni rolls! Homemade pepperoni rolls are the best thing anyone visiting West Virginia should try.

phoenixgsu148 karma

Have you ever considered that it's not regulations killing the coal industry but a changing market? Do you expect that coal can survive in the current market.? I've felt that states that rely on coal production should try to bring in companies that will produce solar panels and training for workers.

Also, not trying to be a dick, genuinely interested in your opinion.

AquaWolf946166 karma

I think both regulations and a changing market are killing the coal industry. It may not be able to survive in the future, but as a collective industry, we are fighting as hard as we can to save this industry before it sinks.

RustyMcFartflaps104 karma


AquaWolf9461155 karma

It is a very widespread problem and has destroyed lots of families, including mine.

squats282 karma

How common is short cutting safety measures for the sake of production? a la Massey?

The Big Branch incident was quite egregious as I understand (disabling methane sensors) but I'd imagine smaller violations are more commonplace.

What was the safety culture like and how did it evolve over your time in the industry?

AquaWolf9461108 karma

Where I worked, we tried to do everything right and stay within the law. We worked in a union mine, and we had strict safety standards we went by. The union didn't tolerate safety violations.

Palendrome79 karma

Do you think that jobs should be saved at the cost of higher impact/long term events like global warming, destroying nonrenewable resources, etc.?

AquaWolf946119 karma

Not yet. There is still coal to mine and jobs to be had. When that's exhausted, then we should switch permanently to a solar or wind powered society. I think it's good that we are working on these new technologies, but I don't think it's time to switch yet. In addition, moving to a new energy source will take away a lot of jobs from our region. I think we need to invest more energy in making coal burn cleaner first.

phoenixgsu53 karma

States should try to bring those production companies in. I don't see any reason why West Virginia or eastern Kentucky couldn't pump out solar panels or other products necessary for new energy sources.

AquaWolf946132 karma

It is easier said than done. It's difficult to attract industry to our state because of the 'hillbilly' stigma and the state of our roads and bridges, like what was mentioned.

mcbellyshelf12 karma

Do you think that investing in new energy solutions would provide other jobs? What about when robots start taking on more work, automating a lot of people further out of work.

AquaWolf946121 karma

It is important that we are prepared for the shift (economically and psychologically to an extent) to an almost completely automated society, because then almost nobody will have a job.

badbrad12351 karma

What is the worst accident you've seen?

AquaWolf9461129 karma

Not a mine accident, but I worked at a steel mill in Ohio. We took steel cables and ran them through a die and made them smaller. They were dipped in Acid tanks before the materials were sent out. I was working the day shift and a man was killed on the machine that rolled steel cables up. His glove got caught and he was smashed flat. I had to take over the machine he left behind.

In the mine, one of my friend's dad worked on the day shift. They were setting timbers and he was running a coal buggy. A rock about 5 by 12 feet wide fell straight down on him. I went in the funeral home the next morning with my friend and he insisted I go in with him. It was an open casket funeral, and the body was laid flat on a table. He had broken bones all throughout his body. It was really upsetting and made it hard to go back to work, but I did.

irishspuds2 karma

Was it AK Steel near Dayton? I know they're pretty dangerous. I think OSHA even has an on-site office there.

AquaWolf94613 karma

I worked for Cuyahoga Wire and Steel in Solon, Ohio

unknowncreatures48 karma

Have you, or anyone you know had any health issues because of your work?

AquaWolf946186 karma

As mentioned previously, I show symptoms of black lung. Black lung is one of the largest health problems people can get from this industry. People do lose limbs on occasion. Arthritis is also common, due to the damp conditions.

jacobftwq43 karma

What's your mining level?

AquaWolf946175 karma

At my highest position, I worked as a Mine Foreman, meaning that I could run the mine or be the boss of the mine.

If you're talking about actual elevation, I went as far down as 300 feet below the ground.

Rumplestiltman42 karma

I grew up in WV have had many relatives in the mines and many friends as well.. less now.. they have moved on to other careers and still supporting their families.. I understand the mentality of "this is all I know" but if it's not safe or sustainable to the collective don't you find that a bit lazy to blame a progressive shift? Obviously something is replacing the resource.. we are forever a electronic dependant society, so have you not explored the job market in the alternative ventures?

AquaWolf946132 karma

I retired after I was laid off in 1996. I worked in one of the poorer mining communities so moving away to the Carolinas was seen as the "promised land" of sorts. The resource will be cut out of our economy soon, and it will cause a lasting impact in our area and in other places where coal is mined.

Golemfrost32 karma

So, as a mineral collector my question would be have you ever dug up any interesting specimens?

AquaWolf946171 karma

At one point our mine found a petrified tree. I was in charge of digging it out. Indian arrowheads and fern fossils were also found sometimes.

juggilinjnuggala31 karma

First and foremost, How you doing this fine day?

AquaWolf946146 karma

I'm doing fine.

two_off30 karma

Where do most of the laid-off workers move on to?

AquaWolf946144 karma

A lot of them move to the Carolinas immediately after the layoffs. The cost of living is very high so normally all members of the family (including children that are of age) have to work to sustain the household. If you stay behind you may have to join welfare so you can feed your family and have a home to live in. Of course some miners join the chemical or timber industry but this is a minority.

yourdeadcat25 karma

No one wants people to lose their jobs, but at the same time coal and coal mining are not good for the planet.

What are ways to reduce the impact of regulations on layoffs? Is it even possible?

AquaWolf94619 karma

I don't think it is possible to reduce the impact, it just happens.

noshore4me23 karma

What do you see as a viable replacement industry or industries in WV to bring back jobs?

AquaWolf946133 karma

Timber could be an industry that can bring back jobs if it is expanded. The chemical industry in this area still provides many jobs. West Virginia could benefit from having more technology industries in the area. Maybe in the future, new industries we can't imagine will be brought in, but the future isn't bright.

mastachaos20 karma

Do you accept the science on climate change? What percentage of your peers would you estimate accept it?

AquaWolf946136 karma

I know that climate change is real and I would say 99% of them accept it too.

aRoseBy20 karma

How are your lungs doing?

My grandpa lived until his 80s, which I think is pretty good for a coal miner who chain-smoked.

AquaWolf946135 karma

The doctors say I don't have black lung, but I show the symptoms of having the disease. I have a lawyer who is currently fighting for my case. It does affect a lot of people around here. I know miners who can't walk up/down stairs or even breath regularly. Recently water is put on the coal while it is being cut out of the ground. It helps some, but miners are still getting black lungs, albeit at a lower amount.

AMARIDER11716 karma

Do you like Ramps?

AquaWolf946111 karma

I can eat them, but they are not something I would eat every day.

ytrof13 karma

Whats your favorite whiskey?

AquaWolf946115 karma

George Dickle

marshalcrunch10 karma

Do due the transition from coal to renewable energy in the united states, is it not gonna be inevitable that the coal mines will be shut down within the next 20-30 years. Which means that rather than trying to fight regulations west virgins should be trying to transition to renewable energy jobs?

AquaWolf94619 karma

They will probably be shut down soon due to new restrictions on the industry. The problem is that the landscape of the West Virginia coalfields aren't suitable to construct renewable energy sites. People are already poor because of layoffs from the mines, and can't afford to move away from the region, in addition to having family responsibilities. The family structure is really different in this area compared to somewhere like New York City or other big city areas.

BeardMilk14 karma

West Virginia has one of the worst education systems in the country. If the West Virginians were better educated they would be able to earn better wages instead of relying on low paying manual labor in a dying industry. The reality is that coal and fossil fuels are on the way out, there is nothing that will change that. People in these areas that rely on that kind of work need to start making changes now instead of launching a futile fight against the inevitable.

AquaWolf946119 karma

The beginning of the end for the coal industry in West Virginia started a domino effect where a lot of the local resources, including education, started to decline. Take a look at this article

sexquipoop6910 karma

I've worked some shitty jobs, probably nothing even close to as rough as coal mining, but in every job I worked there were some good things. There were some fun parts and interesting aspects. Is there some part about being down in a mine that people wouldn't expect is actually fun, entertaining, exciting or interesting?

AquaWolf946116 karma

You always have to be on your toes, like knowing to move out of the way of a coal shuttle or driving a vehicle with precision so you don't hit a wall. You also make some good friends in the mines who will always be there for you.

AdmiralZarin8 karma

Do the new regulations cut into mining Anthracite for home heating? What about mining bitumen for steel plants?

AquaWolf94613 karma

I wouldn't know that off the top of my head.

BlackSuN427 karma

I used to work in the Oil & Gas field. I always struggled with my profession and what they were doing with the environment. I felt like a hypocrite saying that I wanted to protect the lands I recreated while profiting from the destruction of other areas. Did you have similar personal struggles?

AquaWolf94616 karma

I can't say that I ever did.

Sunsparc7 karma

Can you say which mine you worked? My dad's family is from WV and my cousin's husband works in a mine as a safety officer, I believe.

AquaWolf946115 karma

Semet-Solvay, Whitesville No. 7, Twilight No. 10, Lightfoot No. 2

sjleader6 karma

Would you rather continue to work in a mine where you will probably die of cancer, or, be trained on some new technology and work in that field, for more pay? If #2 was real, would you chose it?

AquaWolf946121 karma

People in the mines don't die of cancer often. A new technology industry being brought to West Virginia would help offset the mine closures, but it isn't likely to happen. For now, working in the mines is the best bet until a new industry takes over.

BeTripleG5 karma

I think it's fair to say that most Americans support the general shift from coal use to more sustainable energy sources for a variety of reasons. Certainly it is no fault of the multi-generational mining communities in your area that this change is happening, and they should not be unjustly disenfranchised as a result of this shift.

I'm curious as to your stance on the role of government in managing the livelihoods of coal mining communities: Do you support expanded government activities and programs to support the families of this dying industry? Do you feel it is the responsibility of government to do this at all? Are you okay with using taxpayer money to temporarily subsidize families' income while they adapt to this massive local change? (For the record, I support these initiatives)

And, tangentially, what can you see replacing this source of income for the communities that came about in these areas if not through coal? Or is it inevitable that these communities will have to relocate if they want to survive once such subsidy programs ultimately end?

AquaWolf94615 karma

I partially support this, but only partially because people don't use the welfare money to get a new job, they just live off it.

montani4 karma

What are your thoughts on Jim Justice?

AquaWolf94617 karma

I don't know him very well, but people I know say he will be good for the state.

ThePaxCanadiana3 karma

I worked for years in the oil industry and it will end someday soon so I feel for the people in your industry. How many people work in a typical coal mine now compared to 30 or 50 years ago?

AquaWolf94618 karma

I don't know how many people work there now as it is more automated. From my experience about 300 people worked in a typical mine in the 1970s or 80s.

icarus-_-sky2 karma

My grandfather was a coal miner in the '50s in west Virginia. He ended up dying of black lung long before I was born. They lived in abject poverty to the point of having my dad help him steal coal to heat their home through the winter. So I have a 2 part question;

How would you compare safety standards from when you started to when you left?

How would you compare the viability of the profession from when you started to when you ended in terms of supporting a normal sized family?

AquaWolf94615 karma

Safety standards were higher when I left, but they had always been high because I was part of a Union mine. The coal mines had paid a lot more money when I left compared to when I started.

4the2pe0ple2 karma

Was it fun?

AquaWolf94613 karma

I thoroughly enjoyed my job in the mine.

gosu_chobo2 karma

what are some of the inside jokes only miners get?

AquaWolf94612 karma

Why do Timber setters get more of the ladies? Because they have the big poles.

angeldawns2 karma

What is your favorite thing about where you live? What do you think would make life there better (besides continuing the mining)?

AquaWolf94615 karma

I really love the food and great family values. One thing that would make life here better would be the implementation of more rehab programs for oxy users and crackdowns on drug users.

DrMediocreCalves1 karma

Do you support any of the presidential candidate? And why?

AquaWolf94615 karma

I don't support any of the current candidates.

Heilenbinks1 karma

I live in Wyoming where a lot of mining jobs are being lost due to budget cuts. Where do you think the coal industry will be in 10 years?

AquaWolf94612 karma

Probably on their way out of business.

CadillacJoeJoe1 karma

I'm originally from Logan, WV (Go wildcats!) and relocated to Columbus in 2014. My grandpa and dad were both miners at some point. I know things are getting bad back home, what with all the drugs. Do you regret staying in WV?

AquaWolf94614 karma

No. I stayed because it's my home. It's like a captain staying on a ship as it sinks. I think that I have a personal responsibility to stay here, and that's something that almost all of us have.

I1lI1llII11llIII1I1 karma

What are your thoughts on fracking and the impact that super cheap natural gas has had on the industry?

AquaWolf94614 karma

I don't really know that much about it, and I can't make a decision on it.

kjpwvu1 karma

Do you really want to risk your life everyday to extract black rocks? I understand it may be one of your limited options to make a living, but if given a choice would you still go underground?

AquaWolf946113 karma

Yes, I did. I am proud to be a coal miner. As I stated, I came from a long line of miners in my family. It was important to me to continue this legacy.

billym321 karma

I had family that worked in the mines in Scranton, PA and I know mining was huge in this area. Have you ever mined in the Scranton area?

AquaWolf94613 karma