Massey's Montcoal Disaster: Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

Pray for the 25 miners killed at near Montcoal WV and their families and friends. Pray for the four miners (or more) still missing.

Not many folks outside the region had heard of Montcoal, until yesterday, when Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine blew up at 3:27 p.m.--the worst mining disaster in the US for 25 years, worse than Sago, if you can quantify horror. Performance Coal, a subsidiary of Massey, operates this underground mine beneath a vast expanse of Massey's mountaintop removal surface mines that I have written about before.

My friends at Coal River Mountain Watch in Whitesville, three miles north, note on their website (via
filmaker Adams Wood's website for On Coal River) that the Upper Big Branch explosion is also:
the worst mine disaster to strike the Coal River Valley
In looking at the coverage, what galls me is the printing of quotes--unexamined and at face value--about Massey's "mourning" for the miners. Take a look at this screen shot (emphasis added) from the website bragging about the company's safety on the same home page that links to their statements about the Upper Big Branch mine.

Some though have been examining Massey's safety record at the mine, although, as Paul Blumenthal notes at the Sunlight foundation,

The Upper Big Branch Mine that suffered the most serious mining disaster since 1984 on Monday has received the most serious citations from the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in 2009 of all Massey Energy-owned mines in West Virginia. Data collected from MSHA shows that over the course of the last year, the Upper Big Branch Mine received 48 "unwarrantable failure orders," far exceeding Massey Energy's number two recipient of serious citations in West Virginia.

Ken Ward filed story that this afternoon officials said that
Rescuers at the site of the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster in more than two decades likely won't be able to resume the search for four missing miners until at least Wednesday evening.

In another story he looked at the inadequacy of reforms after the Sago disaster and asked Davitt McAteer, who ran MSHA during the Clinton administration how this could happen.

"It tells me one of two things...One, the law isn't being enforced or, two, the law didn't go far enough."