From my friend Gil Roth, proprietor of the “Virtual Memories” blog comes a tip-off to a damning AP report to be found on wall street journal online (free for a week only) that re-ignites my outrage against de-regulation, an outrage triggered last summer by the fatal Utah coal mining disaster.
You’ll recall that the mine in question had hundreds of uncorrected safety violations, used risky mining methods and failed to protect its workers with precautions against collapse. In this AP report on the Mining Health and Safety Agency’s dismal performance, one sees that the deregulatory climate has so radically shifted the balance against attempted regulation of greedy and careless mining operators that the greedheads might as well be inspecting themselves. Indeed the Inspector General concludes the Mining Safety Agency had not proven itself free of “undue influence” by the mine it was supposed to regulate.
Since the wsj version of the AP report will become unavailable after a week I’ll reprint it’s first few paragraphs:
Inspector General Says Regulators
‘Negligent’ in Utah Mine Collapse
By KRIS MAHER
“The Labor Department’s internal-inspection arm said the Mine Safety and Health Administration was negligent in protecting miners at a Utah coal mine where nine people died last summer.
The 80-page report by the office of the inspector general faults MSHA with failing to show that it made the right decision in approving a plan to ensure the safety of the mine’s roof. It also failed to show “that the process was free from undue influence” from the mine’s operator, Cleveland-based Murray Energy Corp., the report said. The report also noted that the mine had a history of collapses and that the Utah MSHA office didn’t adequately weigh unstable geological conditions at the mine. (See the full text of the report.)
In August, six miners were killed at the Crandall Canyon mine in a roof collapse more than 2,000 feet underground, following seismic activity. An additional three rescue workers were killed trying to find the trapped miners. The precise cause of the initial accident remains unknown, and the bodies of the six miners haven’t been recovered.
When the initial accident occurred, the mine was engaged in a mining technique called retreat mining, or pillar extraction, in which pillars of coal that had been supporting the roof of the mine are removed to maximize production as miners work their way toward the mine entrance.…”
I remember some commenters felt I was going over the top, beyond civility, when in my rage against the whole corrupt set up I called the Crandall Mine’s owner a “bloated buffoon” in several posts last summer as I watched him pull a phony Wilmer Brimley act for the tv cameras, pretending compassion for the workers his mine had killed, yet opposing any further regulation which might prevent it.
I have no apologies. Now that the truth is out–or more of it– I hope the bloated buffoon goes to jail for criminal negligence.