Today the Massey Energy company stated that they would increase their production at their other mines to compensate for the economic losses that the explosion and loss of life at the Upper Big Branch mine has caused. That announcement made for a telling back drop as some of the victims families held funerals for their loved ones today. The current death toll is at 25 and with 4 still missing for days with no positive signs. President Obama was quoted “praying for a miracle” for the remaining miners trapped inside the mine while giving his condolences to the families of the fallen miners. For the 3rd time in a row the rescue attempts had to be called off due to toxic gases that still linger in the mine.
Massey Energy has come out swinging at the media for the portrayal of their company and the host of fines and internal documents that have been released about the lack of safety. In the months and days leading up to the explosion federal inspectors found a string of safety violations at a sprawling West Virginia coal mine. Including two citations the day of the explosion. Miners were so fearful of the conditions that several told their congressman they were afraid to go back into the mine
Yet it’s these fines and citations and today’s push to increase the output at other mines that tells a different story. It tells the story of a company who failed to follow federal safety guidelines in an effort to increase production and profits. That deemed the fines levied for the safety short comings would pale in comparison to the profits lost in diverting resources to maintain the federal safety codes.
In the wake of the worst mining disaster in the past 25 years prices for metallurgical coal has jumped nearly 22% as Upper Big Branch contributes to 3% of the coal produced in the United States. Metallurgic coal is a key ingredient used by steal makers.
Today the rescue team reached as far as the first of two rescue chambers to see if anyone had survived inside. They were forced to turn back within yards of the second chamber as the rescue crew discovered fire, smoke and threat of volatile gas blocked the second chamber. No word yet when the next attempt will be made.