Philly Rising Tide Statement on the Mine Disaster in West Virginia

Posted: April 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
pray for our miners

pray for our miners

On Monday, April 5, the largest mining disaster in the U.S. in forty years occurred in Massey Energy’s non-unionized Upper Big Branch Mine near Montcoal, West Virginia, killing twenty-nine miners. This mine has incurred 3,000 safety violations since 1995, and eighty-six of those since 2005 involved failure to follow a ventilation plan to control methane and coal dust, the probable cause of Monday’s explosion. Massey’s CEO, Don Blankenship, said in a radio interview he considers that “Violations are unfortunately a normal part of the mining process.” Massey generally avoids paying its fines, or contests them in court.

Massey is as well the leader in mountain top removal mining, having mined nearly 190 million tons of coal over the last decade with this extremely damaging method (opensourcecoal.org), and has incurred thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act by dumping the mine waste in rivers and streams in West Virginia and Kentucky.

When hazardous conditions are the accepted way of doing business, when the profits of a company are deemed more important than the lives of the people who work in these dangerous jobs, or the continued existence of the mountains themselves and the communities that live in them, it is time—past time– to develop other ways of meeting our energy needs. The erection of wind turbine engines in Appalachia could generate more electricity than coal in only a few years and provide green jobs for the miners who remain employed as well as those eliminated by the increasing mechanization of the mining process (mountain top removal was specifically designed to reduce labor costs). We must demand that the government do more to enable the transition to clean energy, and that Wall Street stop financing corporate criminals like Massey Energy.

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