One More Outrage in the West Virginia Coal Mining Disaster

04/07/2010 12:49 PM |

moutain mining sucks
  • Clean coal!

There’s an awful lot to be angry about in the West Virginia coal mining disaster that has so far claimed the lives of 25 miners: the greed-driven disregard for safety shown by mine owner Massey and its TV villain CEO Don Blankenship; Blankenship’s avowed union busting over the last 25 years, which has seen the percentage of unionized miners in West Virginia drop almost 90 percent, making it harder for workers to demand safe conditions (not incidentally, the last two mining disasters have been at non-union mines); Blankenship’s million-dollar donation to the Tea Party; George W. Bush’s cynical appointment of a former mining executive to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which oversaw the slow erosion of regulatory guidelines (Obama’s trying to improve this situation); Massey’s environmentally disastrous “mountain top removal” practices, which destroy eco-systems, poison drinking water and ruin lives (and are paid for by your Chase banking fees!). But wait, there’s more…

In reading another article today about the whole sad mess, I came across the following, which pretty much exploded my atavistic “moral outrage” brain-cluster: “[Governor Joe] Manchin noted some family members were not notified in person by the company. ‘That’s not good enough,’ he said.”

Holy shit, “not good enough” is right. If ever there was a bipartisan nugget of villainy that could create common ground between the Right and the Left it’s an organization not having the old fashioned decency to tell family members in person about their dead loved ones. Jesus Christ and goddamn Don Blankenship.

3 Comment

  • Criminal charges should be on the table, and going all the way to the top, not some supervisor who’s gonna be the fall guy, but the CEO. FBI should head down there to secure evidence. I would not trust local law enforcement or state gov to do the proper job seeing how connected this guy is politically.

  • @gjk:

    While it’s true that the coal industry does run the state of West Virginia, it’s possible that populist outrage (this is the worst mining disaster in a quarter century, and was shockingly preventable) may inspire some WV pols to cut ties. Today’s Times story reports that miners are speaking up on the mine’s poor safety record to their congressman, Nick Rahall (D), who seems to be saying the right things:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/us/08wes…

    Then again:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/20/r…

  • Similar accident happened in Poland last year (20 dead). Inadequate ventilation, bad wiring, and faulty or improperly installed methane and coal dust detectors. They had anonymous sources on tv saying the coal company had people going in there possibly tampering with the evidence before investigators got to the scene. (google translator works ok on this article, no criminal charges yet though) : http://wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/Wiadomosci/1,8…

    I’m not too optimistic (any statements on treating this as a crime scene investigation? I haven’t seen any). But then again the crane company ceo was indicted just few weeks ago here in NYC, so who knows… http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/nyregion…