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Crisis or Casualty Response, Investigation and Management

Donald R. Abaunza, Strategic Risk Management For Natural Resources Companies and Their Advisors: Domestic and International Issues

While most organizations agree that having a current Catastrophe Response Plan is advisable, developing and maintaining such a plan is often deferred or not given adequate attention until it is too late. Corporate executives often rationalize that a catastrophe or other emergency situation will not occur on their watch, and in turn, they devote their attention to more pressing issues. But as fires, cave-ins, explosions, chemical releases, and recent hurricanes have proven, emergencies can occur quickly and with devastating results.

Take, for example, the Sago Coal Mine disaster which occurred on January 2, 2006 in Sago, West Virginia near the Upshur County seat of Buckhannon. An unexplained explosion occurred at approximately 6:30 am. The blast and ensuing aftermath trapped thirteen miners for nearly two days, only one of whom survived. It was the worst mining disaster in the U.S. since a 2001 disaster in Alabama that killed thirteen people, and the worst disaster in West Virginia since a 1968 incident that killed 78 people. The Sago Mine disaster is also widely remembered for its high-volume publicity and around-the-clock news coverage. For nearly two days it dominated the airwaves of major television stations such as CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and all major American news broadcasts. The disaster even gained significant international attention. As a result of the h