FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sept. 11, 2017
[TRIANGLE, VA] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“Like other West Virginians, I am disgusted by the television ads sponsored by convicted criminal Don Blankenship that have been running in our state the last few weeks. These ads are a desperate, low-life attempt to once again shift the blame for a decade of death, destruction and despair at Massey Energy while Blankenship was CEO.
“The facts are clear: 54 people were killed on Massey Energy property while Don Blankenship ruled that company with an iron fist, 29 of them in the Upper Big Branch mine on April 5, 2010. Don Blankenship was convicted of establishing a scheme to circumvent federal mine safety and health law, thereby putting Massey workers at enhanced risk. The fact that he only served a year in prison remains one of the greatest travesties of justice that I have witnessed.
“Four responsible, professional investigations all agreed as to the cause of the Upper Big Branch disaster: A small pocket of methane gas was ignited at the coal face by improperly maintained equipment. That ignition then set off a much more powerful and deadly coal dust explosion that rocketed to the farthest recesses of the mine and then rebounded back, killing everyone in its path. The primary reason there was enough coal dust available to allow this to happen was because Massey Energy’s subsidiary, Performance Coal, failed to adequately ventilate the mine, failed to remove excess coal dust from the mine and failed to adequately rock dust the mine.
“Don Blankenship, by creating a corporate culture that put production over safety, is responsible for these failures. It is appalling that he continues his despicable attempt to shift the blame from himself, each time ripping open the painful wounds the families of the victims will suffer forever. Although Don Blankenship may not have received the proper punishment in this world, those families can rest assured that he will receive it in the next.”