People do not die for us immediately, but remain bathed in a sort of aura of life which bears no relation to true immortality but through which they continue to occupy our thoughts in the same way as when they were alive. It is as though they were traveling abroad.
4 Missing W.Va. Miners Found Dead
Rescue workers located four bodies deep in a West Virginia coal mine, dashing any faint hopes of finding more survivors of a deadly explosion that has claimed 29 lives, the worst U.S. mining disaster in a generation.
Officials announced the grim discovery at the Upper Big Branch Mine early Saturday, after first notifying family members.
"We did not receive the miracle that we prayed for," Gov. Joe Manchin said. "So this journey has ended and now the healing will start."
Until late Friday, officials had held out a slim chance that four missing miners may have made it to an underground refuge chamber which held enough oxygen and water to survive for four days.
"None of the chambers had been deployed and none of our miners suffered," Manchin said.
Mine rescue effort turns to recovery
President Barack Obama said Saturday that steps must be taken to make sure such an explosion does not happen again.
"We cannot bring back the men we lost," he said in a statement. "What we can do, in their memory, is thoroughly investigate this tragedy and demand accountability."
Deadly Record: Massey’s Mine In Montcoal Has Been Cited For Over 3,000 Violations, Over $2.2 Million In Fines
This deadly mine has been cited for over 3,000 violations by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 638 since 2009:
- Since 1995, Massey’s Upper Big Branch-South Mine has been cited for 3,007 safety violations. Massey is contesting 353 violations, and 127 are delinquent. [MSHA]
- Massey is contesting over a third (34.7%) of the 516 safety citations the Upper Big Branch-South Mine received in 2009, its greatest count in the last 15 years. [MSHA]
- In March 2010, 53 new safety citations were issued for Massey’s Upper Big Branch-South Mine, including violations of its mine ventilation plan. [MSHA]
. . .
Massey is now contesting $1,128,833 in fines for safety violations at the deadly Upper Big Branch-South Mine, with a further $246,320 in delinquent fines:
- Over $2.2 million in fines have been assessed against Massey’s Upper Big Branch-South Mine since 1995, with $791,327 paid. Massey is contesting $1,128,833 in fines. Massey’s delinquent fines total $246,320. [MSHA]
- Massey is contesting $251,613 in fines for citations for Upper Big Branch-South Mine’s ventilation plan. [MSHA]
. . .
Massey’s corrupt CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce board member Don Blankenship, has previously told employees that it was more important to “run coal” than follow safety regulations.
In 2002, President George W. Bush “named former Massey Energy official Stanley Suboleski to the MSHA review commission that decides all legal matters under the Federal Mine Act,” and cut 170 positions from MSHA. Bush’s MSHA chief, Dick Stickler, was a former manager of Beth Energy mines, which “incurred injury rates double the national average.”
The Politics of Life and Death in West Virginia
In the wake of the Massey Energy tragedy that killed 29 coal miners in West Virginia, there appear to be two steps that could improve worker safety there. First, as the mine accident record of the last decade suggests, join a union. Second, put Democrats in the White House to reverse the GOP's nationwide gutting of federal regulation and oversight. Sadly, both trends in West Virginia have been moving the opposite direction.