President Barack Obama demanded accountability on Saturday after four missing West Virginia coal miners were found dead, nearly five days after an explosion killed 25 others in the worst U.S. mining disaster in nearly four decades.
Federal records show Upper Big Branch had three fatalities since 1998, a worse-than-average injury rate in the past 10 years and was cited for more than 100 safety violations this year. [Mine owners] Massey said Upper Big Branch’s violation rate was “consistent with national averages.
Given what’s already come out about conditions at the mine, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out where to put the blame. And if the mine owner is correct that its safety violation rate is “consistent with national averages,” then we will probably see more such tragedies here, as China does on a regular basis in its highly unregulated coal mining industry.
In the week following the biggest mining tragedy in the last 40 years, the Mine Health and Safety Administration has found a disconcerting 130 “significant and substantial” safety violations at dozens of other Massey mines.
Gillian Welch, “A Miner’s Refrain” – from the album Hell Among the Yearlings