Photo via MoneyStore
In the week following the biggest mining tragedy in the last 40 years, the Mine Health and Safety Administration has found a disconcerting 130 "significant and substantial" safety violations at dozens of other Massey mines. And while the Huffington Post announces this news by saying the safety violations are "skyrocketing" since the tragic explosion, that's not exactly the case--it's even scarier. Such an overload of violations is actually closer to par for the course for Massey.Massey Energy, which owns the Upper Big Branch Mine where 29 employees lost their lives, has a distinct history of putting profits over mining safety, even more so in recent years. For instance, the operators of Upper Big Branch mine, where the accident occurred, had allowed thousands of unaddressed violations to accumulated--there were 53 new violations the same month that the tragedy occurred.
Some of those violations concerned the improper ventilation that allowed flammable methane to collect in the mines--what many suspect led to the terrible explosion that caused the tragedy.
All this goes to say that gross negligence of safety regulations was par for the course before the accident--and that they were receiving numerous violations even them. But the Huffington Post is right, closer attention is now being paid, and violations seem to be pursued more vigorously:
The Mine Safety and Health Administration cited 130 "significant and substantial" violations at dozens of Massey's mines from April 6 to April 14, according to a HuffPost analysis of MSHA records. That exceeds the number of violations found at those same mines for the entire month of March. Four of those violations involved ventilation plans which are intended to help prevent explosions and are designed "to control methane and respirable dust and shall be suitable to the conditions and mining system at the mine" -- the Upper Big Branch mine was repeatedly cited for such violations and was penalized $136,142 in January.But remember, the problem wasn't mostly with the lack of violations issued, it was primarily Massey's unwillingness to address them, and regulators' failure in enforcing compliance.
In total, the agency found 460 violations at Massey's mines, which exceeds the 351 violations at those same mines in March. Such S&S; violations are considered much more serious, because they present a direct risk to the health and safety of mine workers
Scrutiny is now being turned towards the man many are finding responsible for the negligence and downright unwillingness to address safety concerns: Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Blankenship has a well documented history of displaying hostility towards regulations and regulators, and his strategy has largely been to challenge safety violations in his mines, getting them hung up in court, instead of actually addressing the issues. Due to this dangerous negligence and decided noncompliance, Massey Energy shareholders are now calling for Blankenship's firing.
More on Massey Energy and Blankenship
Massey CEO Don Blankenship's Long History of Ignoring Mining Safety
Don Blankenship : Mine Safety Regulators "As Silly as Global Warming"