Even while Massey Energy is touting another record setting year for safety, the Charleston Daily Mail today has a different story: Safety inspectors
Safety inspectors concluded as recently as last month that conditions at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine posed substantial and significant risks to miner well-being before a Monday explosion killed 25 miners and trapped 4.
In March alone, U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials cited the mine, which is owned by Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co., for failing to control dust; improperly planning to ventilate the mine of dust and the combustible gas methane; inadequate protection from roof falls; failing to maintain proper escapeways; and allowing the accumulation of combustible materials.
In the past 15 years, there have been more than 3,000 violations cited at the Upper Big Branch mine, the Daily Mail reports.
The violations appear “quite relevant” to Monday’s explosion, said Scott Simonton, a professor of environmental science and environmental engineering at Marshall University.
Not much to add here, really. All businesses hate red tape and government meddling. But in high-risk industries like coal mining, the safety regulations clearly serve a purpose — though the influence of industry means that such regulations usually arrive as a response to a disaster like Monday’s, instead of anticipating such an event.
“It’s unfortunate, but every mine safety law we have on the books today was written in the blood of coal miners,” Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said today.
The Daily Mail story seems to reveal that the problem is not about writing these laws, but enforcing them.
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