Firefighters rescue Midwest Energy dozer operatorSuperior firefighters rescued a bulldozer operator who became trapped in a coal stockpile at the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal Thursday morning. The incident began around 10 a.m. when the operator backed into a hole on the stockpile, Superior Fire Battalion Chief Vern Johnson said.
By: Steve Kucherafirstname.lastname@example.org, Superior Telegram
Superior firefighters rescued a bulldozer operator who became trapped in a coal stockpile at the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal Thursday morning.
The incident began around 10 a.m. when the operator backed into a hole on the stockpile, Superior Fire Battalion Chief Vern Johnson said.
“The dozer became partially engulfed, trapping the operator in the cab,” he said. “Just the tip of the (bulldozer’s) blade was sticking out of the hole; he was stuck in there a ways.”
Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 10:02 a.m. Once there they set anchors and ropes, donned safety harnesses and descended into the hole to free the driver from the bulldozer. The man suffered minor injuries, and firefighters escorted him off the stockpile to where he could receive medical attention. He was taken to the hospital in a Midwest Energy vehicle.
The dozer operator, who has worked at Midwest for more than five years “was informed that he was not to be” in the area of the stockpile where the accident happened, Midwest Energy Resources Company President Fred L. Shusterich said.
“Until we complete a thorough examination of all things involved in this accident, we won’t comment as a company,” he said.
The terminal had only one lost-time accident last year. That accident did not result in serious injuries, Shusterich said.
“That is kind of amazing with what we do and how many hours of work we do,” he said.
Thursday’s accident delayed the loading of the Mesabi Miner. The ship is scheduled to start this year’s Twin Port’s shipping season today, departing with nearly 58,000 tons of coal for the Presque Island Power Plant in Michigan. Shusterich expected the ship will depart today.
Owned and operated by Midwest Energy Resources Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Detroit Edison Company, the terminal can store 5 million tons of coal on site (it currently has more than 3.5 million tons) and ship as many as 25.5 million tons a year. The facility shipped about 14 million tons last year. A 96-inch conveyor system moves coal from the stockpile to the loading dock. Up to 11,500 tons per hour can be loaded into a ship.
The dozer involved in the accident was one of six Caterpillar D11s and two scrapers Midwest uses to move coal on its stockpiles to areas from where it can be loaded into ships. Each dozer is more than 35 feet long, 10 feet wide and nearly 15 feet high and weighs more than 100 tons. Each is fitted with a blade 24 feet wide and 10 feet high, capable of pushing up to 97 cubic yards of coal at a time.