An NPR News investigation has documented a dangerous and potentially illegal act at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia two months before a massive April explosion killed 29 mine workers.
On Feb. 13, an electrician deliberately disabled a methane gas monitor on a continuous mining machine because the monitor repeatedly shut down the machine.
Massey’s CEO Don Blankenship gutted worker protections while his personal income soared. In 2009 he made 17 million dollars from the company, but they can’t afford to follow procedures put in place to ensure properly ventilated mines. And let’s not forget this gem:
“If any of you have been asked by your group presidents, your supervisors, engineers or anyone else to do anything other than run coal you need to ignore them and run coal. This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that coal pays the bills.”
So, fat rich white man kills poor workers to feed his overcompensated lifestyle. And then his 17 million dollar per year ass has the temerity to claim that UNIONS (not the management that’s raking in the cash, but the organized workers who are actually getting the coal from the mines) are making the coal business unprofitable. This guy makes me sick and the fact that his life will continue to be completely awesome and overpaid while he continues to send people to die to defend it is just sickening.
Totally agree. This company is horrible. The lack of regard for their workers and their continued destruction of the environment and the lives of the people who have to live in these areas must be stopped. Coal should not be part of our energy plans any more than oil should.
According to the Rainforest Action Network:
After entering the EPA building, activists sat down in the center of the lobby, locked themselves together with metal ‘lock boxes,’ and began to blast West Virginia’s adopted state song, John Denver’s ‘Take me Home, Country Roads,’ with intermittent sounds of Appalachia’s mountains being blown apart by MTR explosives spliced into the song. An additional activist has climbed to the top of the EPA front door on Constitution Ave and is standing with a banner reading: ‘Blowing up mountains for coal contaminates Appalachia’s water, Stop MTR.
Despite Jackson’s promise last April to enforce new guidance rules to end the reckless process of mountaintop removal mining, the EPA stunned coalfield residents and human rights and environmental advocates across the nation last week with the announcement of their green light for a new mountaintop removal permit at Pine Creek in West Virginia.
“We’re sitting down inside the EPA to demand the EPA stand up to protect Appalachia’s precious drinking water, historic mountains and public health from the devastation of mountaintop removal,” said Scott Parkin of Rainforest Action Network, who participated in the sit-in. “At issue here is not whether mountaintop removal mining is bad for the environment or human health, because we know it is and the EPA has said it is. At issue is whether President Obama’s EPA will do something about it. So far, it seems it is easier to poison Appalachia’s drinking water than to defy King Coal.”
As President Obama makes his third trip to the Gulf today to assess the worst crude oil spill in American history, residents in the coalfields can’t help but sympathize with the stricken area.
“After watching the disaster unfold in the Gulf with 20-40 million gallons of oil already spilled,” says Bo Webb, in Naoma, West Virginia, “I cannot begin to imagine what would happen to our Coal River Valley if the 9 billion gallon sludge dam above us failed.”
Webb is referring to the Brushy Fork impoundment, the largest and potentially weakest coal slurry impoundment in the nation operated by Massey Energy. According to Massey’s own evacuation reports, a break in the class “C” coal slurry impoundment would result in certain injury or death for the nearly 1,000 residents downslope in the valley. Some area residents would have less than 15 minutes to escape a 72-foot tidal wave of coal slurry.
The coal industry is in some ways even worse than the oil industry. Disgusting.