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T O P I C     R E V I E W
raybond  - posted
Don Blankenship in 2009: It’s ‘very difficult’ to obey ‘nonsensical’ safety rules.
Coal baron Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, complained last year that it is “very difficult” to obey “nonsensical” safety rules. On April 5, 2010, 25 miners died in an explosion at his Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, WV, which had racked up thousands of safety violations. Massey is appealing “at least 37 of the 50 citations for serious safety violations” the mine received last year. When asked in a June 2009 interview if he was concerned that Massey was complying with safety regulations, Blankenship derided them as “nonsensical”:

They’re very difficult to comply with. There’s so many of the laws that are, if you will, nonsensical from an engineering or a coal mining viewpoint. A lot of the politicians, they get emotional, as does the public, about the most recent accident, and it’s easy to get laws on the books that are not truly helping the health or safety of coal miners. I think we need to be very pragmatic and very careful when we’re passing laws of that nature to make sure that we create as much safety and as much health as can be created for each of the resources we expen
Blankenship concluded the interview by saying that his company has had “very good success on the safety and the environment.”
 
raybond  - posted
Shareholders call on Massey Energy to fire Don Blankenship.

Massey CEO Don BlankenshipShareholders are calling on Massey Energy to seek the immediate resignation of chairman and CEO Don Blankenship in the aftermath of the West Virginia disaster that killed 29 miners, the worst in forty years. The Change to Win Investment Group — a union pension fund group with over $200 billion in assets — believes the Upper Big Branch mine explosion is the “tragic consequence of the board’s failure to challenge Chairman and CEO Blankenship’s confrontational approach to regulatory compliance.” New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who controls about $14.1 million of Massey stock as the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, blasted Massey’s “callous disregard for the safety of its employees” as a “failure both of risk management and effective board oversight”:

Massey’s cavalier attitude toward risk and callous disregard for the safety of its employees has exacted a horrible cost on dozens of hard-working miners and their loved ones. This tragedy was a failure both of risk management and effective board oversight. Blankenship must step down and make room for more responsible leadership at Massey.

Early this morning, the last of the 29 bodies of the miners killed were recovered from the mine. Yesterday, Standard & Poors upgraded Massey to a “buy,” saying the tragedy’s “financial effect” was “immaterial.”
 
CashCowMoo  - posted
I think both sides are right. I am not familiar with coal mining, but I bet the way the govt is there are tough things to follow. We are talking about half of Americas electricity arent we?

On the other hand, I wonder if there are other coal companies that do the same thing, but with a far better track record.
 
NaturalResources  - posted
As I understood it, the Upper Big Branch mine was cited several times a few months before the explosion for "ventilation problems". I'm not sure what Don Blankenship considers "nonsensical" about providing proper ventilation to prevent methane gas buildup.
 
glassman  - posted
i dunno much about mining, but i heard there was an earhtquake nearby a few days before the blast. add to that the fact they couldn't clear the mine of gasses right away with the emergency holes they drilled? i think something may have changed.

everybody who goes down into the mines knows whats up
 
NaturalResources  - posted
quote:
Originally posted by glassman:
i dunno much about mining, but i heard there was an earhtquake nearby a few days before the blast. add to that the fact they couldn't clear the mine of gasses right away with the emergency holes they drilled? i think something may have changed.

everybody who goes down into the mines knows whats up

I thought the same thing Glass. Apparently there is no connection. As posted in the "Blame coal: Texas leads carbon emissions" bottom of page three:

quote:
Julie Dutton, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told FoxNews.com.

"There's the definite possibility that that's what could have happened, but not from this earthquake," Dutton said. "This one was too far away and days separated. That makes a big difference."

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/06/seismic-events-triggered-explosion/


If you look at the company's track record?

Records Show Upper Big Branch Mine Amassed Scores of Safety Citations, Thousands in Fines

quote:
The West Virginia coal mine where an explosion killed 25 workers and left another four unaccounted for in the worst mining disaster since 1984 had amassed scores of citations from mining safety officials, including 57 infractions just last month for violations that included repeatedly failing to develop and follow a ventilation plan.
...

quote:
The company paid what was then the largest financial settlement in the history of the coal industry for the 2006 fire at the Aracoma mine, also in West Virginia. The fire trapped 12 miners. Two suffocated as they looked for a way to escape. Aracoma later admitted in a plea agreement that two permanent ventilation controls had been removed in 2005 and not replaced, according to published reports.
Full Text At:
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/west-va-coal-company-deadly-explosion-fined-millio ns/story?id=10293691

Accidents happen in coal mines, I agree. I also agree the miners understand the risks involved and accept them when they step foot into the mine. What I find unacceptable is that Mr. Blankenship seems willing to increase these risks because of an agenda other than the saftey of his employees.
 
glassman  - posted
it seems to me that the Union has some responsibilty to make sure the mines are safe too.

of course management is where the buck stops. i'm not excusing them. miners get paid to take risk, the mangers make money by saving money another good reason to have unions IMO.

i did read your post about the expert saying the quake was too far away and too "long away", but i still think it bears consideration even tho i'm not an expert.
 
T e x  - posted
bottom line?

The company ain't taking good, preventive care.

The more dangerous the situation, the more you should act as though it's your children.

Lots of too-risky enterprises gets passed off--doesn't matter whether it's "capitalism" or "socialism" or whatever.
 
NaturalResources  - posted
quote:
Originally posted by glassman:
it seems to me that the Union has some responsibilty to make sure the mines are safe too.

of course management is where the buck stops. i'm not excusing them. miners get paid to take risk, the mangers make money by saving money another good reason to have unions IMO.

i did read your post about the expert saying the quake was too far away and too "long away", but i still think it bears consideration even tho i'm not an expert.

I think the Upper Big Branch Mine is non-union, which might explain the lack of extra oversight.
 
buckstalker  - posted
quote:
Originally posted by T e x:

The more dangerous the situation, the more you should act as though it's your children.


Problem is...they don't...

Companies consider the bottom line as the top priority and the safety of their employees somewhere below that...

That was the main reason that people banded together and formed UNIONS...
 
NaturalResources  - posted
Obama blames owner for West Virginia mine disaster

quote:
Obama said the safety record at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine, where an explosion killed 29 miners on April 5, was deeply troubling and said the company had "put their bottom line before the safety of their workers."

"The people of West Virginia are in our prayers. But we owe them more than prayers. We owe them action," Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden.

"This tragedy was triggered by a failure at the Upper Big Branch mine, a failure first and foremost of management, but also a failure of oversight and a failure of laws so riddled with loopholes that they allow unsafe conditions to continue."

Full Text At:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63E1ZG20100415
 
raybond  - posted
Corporate Front Group Funded By Coal Industry Scorns Widow Of Mine Disaster: ‘Everyone Wants Free Money’
Yesterday, the AP reported that Marlene Griffith, a widow of William Griffith, one of the 29 men killed in last week’s explosion at a coal mine in West Virginia, is suing Massey Energy, the owner of the mine. Griffith filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Raleigh County Circuit Court, arguing that Massey’s handling of work conditions at the mine plus its history of safety violations amounted to aggravated conduct that rises above the level of ordinary negligence. Marlene and here husband were to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary weeks after the deadly blast on April 5.

Indeed, as the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, the mine where William Griffith worked had been cited for over 3,000 safety violations. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who has mocked safety regulators as being “as silly as global warming,” had gummed up the safety regulations process by filing endless appeals instead of paying fines and fixing safety problems.

Responding to the lawsuit, Nathan Coffey, the Public Affairs Coordinator of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), took to Twitter yesterday to mock Marlene Griffith. Coffey posted a link to the AP story about Marlene Griffith, sarcastically commenting that “Everyone wants free money!” View a screen shot of the comment below:


ALEC, founded in 1973 by conservative activist Paul Weyrich, is a DC-based front group which helps state lawmakers craft corporate-friendly legislation. State-based schemes aimed at deregulation are often conceived and coordinated out of ALEC. It is funded by some of the biggest corporations in America, including Koch Industries, Wal-Mart, and AT&T, as well as by the coal industry. Peabody Coal’s Kelly Mader, a Vice President for State Government Affairs at the company, sits on the board of directors of ALEC.
 
NR  - posted
Mine owner agrees to pay record settlement in deadly blast

Reporting from Washington— The owner of the West Virginia coal mine where a fiery explosion killed 29 miners last year has agreed to pay a record $209 million in compensation and fines, officials said Tuesday, but the financial settlement does not stop other investigations into the disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine.

The settlement stops federal prosecutors from pursuing any criminal charges against Alpha Natural Resources, the company that acquired the mine's owner, Massey Energy Co., in June.

But inquiries into individual criminal liability are ongoing, and the agreement does not bar prosecutors from pursuing criminal charges against individuals, according to U.S. Atty. R. Booth Goodwin in Charleston, W.Va.


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-mine-settlement-20111207,0, 7442514.story
 
CashCowMoo  - posted
Now this is an industry where I strongly think unions should be solid in. One of the last really dangerous industries left in the United States. I got a lot of respect for those miners going down there. The blasts, loss of lives, black lung, etc. It seems like every miner who has made it a career has lost a friend down in the mines.
 
NR  - posted
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/us/ex-executive-donald-blankenship-is-indicted -in-disaster-at-coal-mine.html

Ex-Executive Donald Blankenship Is Indicted in Disaster at Coal Mine

The gears of justice turn ever so slowly, but they do turn. It is good to see that this guy finally has to face the music.
 
NR  - posted
http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2014/11/massey-don-blankenship-indictment-mine -safety

"I've been there after the accidents, I've been standing with many of these politicians—they all pledge they're gonna do something for the families, that they care about the miners. And then everybody goes back to business as usual."
 
NR  - posted
One year in prison... it's the maximum for what he was charged with, but still not enough IMO. Even to this day he still acts like he did nothing wrong at it's the governments fault. Guess it pays to have "friends" in high places...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-06/blankenship-facing-swap-of-mou ntaintop-castle-for-prison-bunk
 
IWISHIHAD  - posted
The comments are interesting.

These same ideas have brought us where we are today and will continue to strive us forward and backwards depending on how you look at it.

Would I send my kids or grandkids down in a mine no matter how safe, no.

Are unions good, sometimes yes sometimes no.

How much regulation is good and when is it overregulated?

This disaster is a lawyers lottery.

Insurance companies will settle in many cases whether they feel they are in the right or wrong for settling.

So many times it is more expensive to fight it in the end, even if you are right, lawyers know this and this becomes easy money for them.

How safe can it ever be to go way down below the earth considering the gases etc.?

I don't know what the solutions are to this or homeland security etc.

We want more protection securing our rights and keeping all our jobs and keep all the businesses in business, plus keep low fuel costs.

So many concepts we want seem to oppose each other?
 



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