GOD'S BUSY IN WV MINE DISASTERS

(01/31/2011)

COMMENT by Bob Weaver

Massey Energy, whose entire operation has just been sold, is rejecting the federal government's findings about what caused the deadly explosion last year at its Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 miners.

Massey's attorney Shane Harvey said Friday the company doesn't believe that worn shearer bits, broken water sprayers or an excessive build-up of coal dust contributed to the blast.

Massey is using the classic "Act of God" defense, saying the disaster was a sudden inundation of natural gases from a crack in the mine floor.

Most of the US's major coal disasters have been blamed on God - natural consequences of nature, although they have quit using the "Act of God" phrase most of the time.

Buffalo Creek, which killed 125 West Virginians, was deemed "an act of God," blamed on heavy rainfall, not a throw-together sludge dam that had been declared structurally unsafe.

The Sago disaster was caused by "lighting," while other US mining disasters have been caused by earthquakes and other natural phenomenon.

Massey has been cited with billions of dollars of fines, which they generally ignore or pay only a small percentage, claiming they are a victim of regulators.

Then the regulators have been complicit in actually enforcing safety regulations, engaging in a cat and mouse game for many years.

Congressional Republicans just defeated a bill that would have tightened the cat and mouse game.

God's been busy in the mining industry.


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