Coal Tattoo

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Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is certainly making the rounds today, in support of his company’s latest PR campaign — this one an all-out effort to convince the public that the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster was an unavoidable act of God.

Here’s one select quote from Blankenship’s lunchtime talk at the National Press Club in Washington:

I’m a realist. The politicians will tell you we’re going to do something so this never happens again you won’t hear me say that. Because I believe that the physics of natural law and God trump whatever man tries to do. Whether you get earthquakes underground, whether you get broken floors, whether you get gas inundations, whether you get roof falls, oftentimes they are unavoidable just as other accidents are in society. So, the idea that we can prevent it from happening again is one that I’m cautious not to say that, although I can tell you there is no one more motivated and intending to try harder to avoid it happening again than I am and Massey’s management time is.

C-Span hasn’t posted the video yet, but I’ll add it once it’s available. UPDATED: Here’s a link to that video.

Meantime, Blankenship also gave an “exclusive interview” to Bloomberg news. Among his remarks in that interview:

We don’t know for sure what happened. We do know that there was a crack in the floor near where the mine was operating … and that we have seen that seven years or so ago that happened. It releases a tremendous amount of gas at one time.

Here’s the video of that interview:

UPDATED: And, thanks to the nice folks at Bloomberg’s PR department, here is a transcript of the longer interview.

We’ve already seen MSHA’s response to today’s Massey campaign … and I just interviewed Davitt McAteer, Gov. Joe Machin’s special investigator for the UBB Disaster, and he told me:

If a mining method or a mine seam is vulnerable or prone to methane outbursts then the question is what precautions were taken or have been implemented to prevent these outbursts from turning into a cataclysmic event.

The effort to place blame on God or another person is not an uncommon practice after disasters, particularly in the mining industry. But investigations have almost always led to the conclusion that it wasn’t God who did it.