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Rand Paul on Deadly Mine Collapse: ‘Sometimes Accidents Happen’

Late last month, two young coal miners were killed in western Kentucky when a roof collapsed at the Dotiki coal mine, a non-union operation owned by Tulsa, Okla.-based Alliance Resource Partners.

Today, Rand Paul, the GOP nominee to replace outgoing Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning (R), weighed in on the disaster:

“We had a mining accident that was very tragic,” he told Good Morning America. “But then we come in and it’s always someone’s fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen.”

Sometimes accidents happen? The Associated Press notes the safety history at the mine since 2009:

Records show inspectors from the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing have issued 31 orders to close sections of the mine or to shut down equipment because of safety violations since January 2009. Those records also show an additional 44 citations for safety violations that didn’t result in closure orders.

MSHA records show the mine was cited 840 times by federal inspectors for safety violations since January 2009, and 11 times closure orders were issued.

Here at TWI, we tallied the safety violations at Dotiki this year:

Since the start of the year, the mine has tallied 214 citations for federal safety violations, according to data compiled by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Sixty-five of those were deemed “significant and substantial,” indicating that they are “reasonably likely to result in a reasonably serious injury or illness.” Eleven of them are related to roof-support systems, the failure of which is the likely cause of last night’s collapse.

And the Charleston Gazette’s Ken Ward Jr. pointed out the not-so-wonderful record of fatal accidents that Alliance Resource Partners has accumulated in recent years:

We don’ t have any idea yet what caused the massive roof fall that has left two miners missing at Craft’s Dotiki Mine in Western Kentucky … But we do know that in recent years miners have died in Alliance’s non-union operations because the company violated mine safety laws. …

A quick check of U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration reports revealed seven such incidents that claimed nine lives in the last five years alone:

The mine’s record hasn’t been lost on Kimberly Freeman Brown, who heads American Rights at Work, a pro-union group. She issued a statement Friday blasting Paul’s comments as “simply bizarre.”

“Obviously,” she said, “he hasn’t read the published reports about the mine disaster in his own state.”

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