Two months ago 29 miners died in a tragedy that shocked the country. Recent investigations have led many to believe that this tragedy could have been wholly avoided, if not for the deliberate actions of Don Blankenship of Massey Energy Co.
Massey Energy has been fined millions, for it’s repeated violations of safety regulations in the past. In one case the company was fined four million dollars in both criminal and civil fines for the deaths of miners.
The Upper Big Branch Mine (the site of the recent disaster) has been cited a staggering 1,342 times for safety violations since 2005; 86 of which were due to a lack of necessary ventilation to prevent the types of death that eventually unfolded recently. Last year alone there were 495 violations and $911,802 worth of fines. Leading up to the disaster in early April, 105 violations were already reported for the previous three months.
In 2008 Aracoma Coal was charged by the Justice Department with willful violation of safety standards, one count resulting in the deaths of two miners. Massey settled the charges for 4.2 million dollars.
CEO Don Blankenship has reportedly told Mine Workers in a 2005 memo to “ignore safety violations and run coal” because “coal is what pays the bills.” Mr. Blankenship continued to ignore the numerous citations and safety regulations, and thus resulted eventually in well publicized and fatal calamity. Now, only in the wake of this tragedy and the subsequent investigations, investors are calling for his firing.
At Perenich the Law Firm, we reject putting profit over people. Working Americans deserve to work in a safe environment. We work hard to ensure that the men and women who power our economy and homes, are safe and secure. When government regulations are inadequate or not enforced, the civil justice system stands as the last protection of workers rights.