Massey Energy: Greed Leads to Manslaughter

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COMMON DREAMS- Just when we thought Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (in Montcoal, West Virginia) mining disaster of April 5, 2010, which killed 29 coal miners, couldn’t elicit any more tears or regrets or disgust or outrage, we find out how wrong we were.

Even after an independent investigation commissioned by the state’s former governor reported (on May 19, 2011) that the accident had been the clear result of safety violations, even after we learned that Massey had been cited for more than 1300 safety violations in the five years leading up to the explosion, and even after we concluded, bitterly, that Massey was guilty of wanton carelessness and recklessness—we find that we had aimed way too low.

It turns out that Massey executives were not only negligent, they were calculatingly criminal. On June 28, federal investigators announced they had discovered that Massey Energy was keeping two sets of books (safety logs). One log reflected actual mine conditions, which, alas, were demonstrably unsafe, and the other log was a fictionalized showpiece, a veritable Potemkin village, used to mislead government safety inspectors.

Maybe our first order of business should be to change the nomenclature. Given that Massey knew of the unsafe conditions and not only failed to address them, but attempted to conceal them from the very inspectors whose job it was to protect the miners from injury, we should no longer refer to the Big Branch explosion as an accident, disaster or tragedy. We should refer to it as “manslaughter.”

Read full article about When Greed Leads To Manslaughter–Massey Energy.

© 2011 Common Dreams

Photo by Flickr user Talk Media News

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