Coal Tattoo

Rep. Rahall responds to McAteer UBB report

W.Va. Governor Joe Manchin listens as Rep. Nick Rahall, left, briefs the press on a mine explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, in Naoma, W.Va., on April 6, 2010. Rahall informed the press that a congressional investigation will be conducted alongside the MSHA investigation. (AP Photo/Jon C. Hancock)

Here’s a statement from Rep. Nick J. Rahall, whose district includes the Upper Big Branch Mine:

“The Independent Investigative Report on the Upper Big Branch Disaster is enlightening as well painful to read. It is stiff and cutting in its across-board-criticism of the regulatory agencies, and deservedly so. But at its heart is a scathing critique of Massey Energy – its culture of profit before the well-being of its people and its fabrication of a mine safety system that the report calls merely ‘window dressing.’ In that regard, I look positively upon the buyout of Massey by Alpha Natural Resources – a company with a well-regarded safety program. It is my fervent hope that Alpha will move swiftly to institute the necessary safety changes once it takes control in the coming weeks.

“In culmination, the report finds that there is much, much work to do to ensure that our nation possesses a mine safety system that truly honors the 29 miners who perished at UBB.

“I have already talked with Secretary of Labor Solis and been assured that MSHA has been, and will continue to be, aggressively improving its oversight to bring into line such rogue bad actors as Massey. I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that the agency makes good on that promise and that it has the resources it needs to do so.

“I am cosponsoring legislation to help close loopholes that the report notes were exploited by Massey, and I will be getting more details on the document’s 52 recommendations to see what further can and should be done through Congressional action. I will continue to push for sufficient federal resources for MSHA and the Department of Labor, continuing appropriations secured last year to aggressively pursue pattern violators. As well, I will look forward to the completion of other, ongoing investigative work.

“Finally, my heart goes out to the families of those miners who must be having yet another emotional day. No doubt, this report leaves them with further questions. To them, I extend reassurance that I will keep the pressure on to help them get the answers they seek and to help secure accountability. Their loved ones will not be forgotten.”