West Virginia coal mine rescue crews race against time
Attempts to contact 4 missing miners prove fruitless. Workers drill a new ventilation hole at site where 25 men were killed Monday; governor says there’s only ‘a sliver of hope’ of finding survivors.
By Kim Geiger and Bob Drogin, reporting from Washington and Montcoal, W. Va.
Officials said the explosion occurred at 3:02 p.m. Monday as 31 miners were coming off the day shift. The blast knocked out lights, communications and ventilation fans, and created a windstorm that roared up shafts to the surface, shooting rocks, dirt and debris into the air.
. . . The cause of the explosion is undetermined, although the mine owner, Massey Energy Co., has come under increasing fire for a spotty record of safety operations at Upper Big Branch, including 10 citations this year for inadequate ventilation of explosive gases.
Several members of Congress vowed to hold hearings into the disaster and seek tougher mine safety rules.
“Clearly we must get to the bottom of what happened, how, and who was responsible,” Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.), a former coal miner, said in a statement. “And we must and will hold those parties responsible.”
To which my friend, Christopher Cook responds in an e-mail he titles ‘Coal Miner’s Slaughter“:
So, at least 25 miners die in a mine owned by Massey Energy Company, a coal mining company with a poor worker safety and environmental record.
Well, let’s see who’s on the board of directors of Massey Energy Company. Let’s just take a peek at the corporate website…
Hmmm, here’s Bobby Inman, of Austin, Texas, a former Director of the U.S. National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the CIA. That’s interesting.
And here’s General Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, U.S. Air Force (retired), most recently Commander, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and former Vice Chief of Staff, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. Geez, I wonder why he’s on the board?
And don’t forget Lady Judge, also chair of the board of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, formerly a Commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, and now a Member of the Trilateral Commission.
And surprise surprise, here’s Stanley C. Suboleski, a former Commissioner of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Wonder why he’s there.
Well, it’s good to know the company has people running it who really really REALLY care about miners, ain’t it?
The almost simultaneous Chinese mine disaster in Xiangning claimed nine lives in a mine that had 50 safety violations in a single month.
Well, we’re no China, thank god. Our capitalist adventurer (with other people’s lives), Massey Energy, had a mere ten citations this year, all of them for inadequate ventilation of explosive gases. Who would ever guess a ‘massive explosion’ would occur?
Certainly not Stanley Suboleski, who failed his constituency as Mine Safety Commissioner and took a fat-cat seat on the Massey Board. I wonder how well he sleeps these recent nights?
The difference (I guess) is that there will be executions in China.