UPDATE: 4/10/10 The 4 remaining miners at Montcoal have been found dead.
One has to ask, why doesn’t MSHA (Federal Mine Safety and Health Agency) do more to insist on safer mines? It makes no sense that the feds govern mine safety and the state can also. Yet a company has over 600 violations from one mine? How about the feds going in, shutting down the mines when they have glaring violations like ventilation systems not working and forcing the mines to pay the miners for time spent off the job until the mine is in compliance?
A current theme of mine is “this is 2010.” Coal mining has been unsafe since men first went into the bowels of the earth. Companies have gotten rich off the backs of miners. Part of our language comes from the dangers of mining (Canary in a coal mine). There are so many songs and films about the dangers of mining. Still we have companies that have zero regard for the ultimate safety of their workers.
Should we insist that the federal government protect miners by holding the companies’ respective feet to the fire about violations? Should mining safety be turned over to the state? Probably those who would battle any attempt to reform coal mining standards enforcement would be the coal miners and their families. They are a hard, tenacious group held together by the danger of the job. The key word here is J-O-B. A coal mine brings jobs to an undeveloped, economically depressed area. Mining is hard dangerous work but it pays well, especially when the unions are involved. Where are the unions during all this talk of violations?
Mining is good money if you live to spend it. Massey Energy and its CEO Don Blankenship might have a great deal to answer for once the dust has settled, the dead buried, and the lost found. We simply cannot have mining accidents like this in 2010. These miners aren’t our canaries!