MASSEY CEO DON BLANKENSHIP SENT TO PRISON OVER COVER-UP|
COMMENT 4/2010 By Bob Weaver
One day after a nationally televised memorial for West Virginia's 29 dead miners at Upper Big Branch, the game is on.
Gov. Joe Manchin is repeating his Sago disaster statements, calling for new safety standards.
Massey is a company that has received thousands of safety and environmental violations and billions of dollars in fines.
The Massey board and CEO Don Blankenship are now blaming MSHA for the problem, saying MSHA forced Massey at Upper Big Branch over the objections of company engineers, to make airflow changes in the long-wall section of the mine that made ventilation there "significantly more complex" and reduced the amount of fresh air routed to the longwall mining area.
Massey, who likely has the worst mine safety and environmental records in America, has played a long-standing cat-and-mouse, enforcement-ducking game with complicit government regulators and state officials, with outcomes generally favorable to their bottom line.
If history holds true, Massey will soon blame God for the latest disaster. (They Did)
Blaming God is a longstanding rationale in West Virginia and national mining disasters, whether it is rainfall for collapsing the Buffalo Creek dam killing 125, or lightening causing the deaths at Sago.
In some states, mining disasters have been blamed on earthquakes.
After all, there have been minor earthquakes in recent weeks in West Virginia.
Massey Energy is saying their safety checks revealed no methane buildup or ventilation problems at the company's Upper Big Branch Mine prior to the explosion.
"There was no evidence of a dangerous condition," said board member Suboleski, although reports say lifesaving air flow meant to control deadly gases was headed in the wrong direction on April 13, and the mine was fined $70,000 for the problem.
Massey has appointed its own internal investigation team, and released some preliminary findings that criticized the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.
State and federal records have indicated heated disputes between Massey and government inspectors over ventilation systems meant to sweep methane gas out of the Upper Big Branch Mine.
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