Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On Mining Disasters

The Sago mine disaster in 2006 made me study safety regulations in mines. If I remember correctly, George Bush The Younger had pretty much de-fanged the system of safety monitoring in the mines and the fines for the offenders were either too small to matter or not enforced. Then death came to collect the final fines though not from those who should have paid.

The most recent disaster in West Virginia smells similar to me:

And although the company says that its safety record is better than the industry average, Massey has frequently been cited for safety violations, including about 50 citations at the Upper Big Branch mine in March alone. Many of those 50 citations were for poor ventilation of dust and methane, failure to maintain proper escape ways, and the accumulation of combustible materials.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration cited the mine for 1,342 safety violations from 2005 through Monday for a total of $1.89 million in proposed fines, according to federal records. The company has contested 422 of those violations, totaling $742,830 in proposed penalties, according to federal officials.