UMWA asks for correction in NPR/Frontline story regarding resurgence of Black Lung


February 14, 2019

[TRIANGLE, VA.] United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

            “National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting recently ran a generally excellent investigative story on the rise of coal workers pneumoconiosis, or Black Lung, in America’s coalfields. It was an in-depth piece that went beyond the normal reporting on the issue.

            “However, there was one part of the story that contained an inaccurate statement from Ms. Celeste Montforton, a former employee of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), regarding the UMWA’s position on developing regulations to curtail coal mine dust, including quartz and silica. She said that she “thinks” the union resisted promulgating such regulations. That statement is false.

“The Union has never take such a position. We have always forcefully argued that exposure to silica, quartz and all other coal mine dust must be controlled through all environmental and technological means available if we are to successfully eradicate pneumoconiosis. I have written a letter to NPR asking that they correct their reporting on this point (see letter here).

            “Due to the nature of this erroneous statement and the need to ensure that the UMWA’s consistent strong advocacy for miners’ health and safety is not besmirched by Ms. Montforton’s statement, I have decided to make our letter public. I look forward to discussing this with NPR, getting the correction made and moving on.”