This statement just out from the United Mine Workers of America:
“When the initial announcement of the merger of Alpha Natural Resources and Massey Energy was announced last January, I said, ‘Alpha’s got quite a job on its hands to turn the former Massey mines around from Massey’s safety-last culture…one hopes that Alpha recognizes that sorry record and has a plan in place to move swiftly toward resolving many of those issues.’
“Then came the news that Alpha was placing Massey personnel who played key roles in Massey’s corporate culture into important positions in the merged company. In the wake of the strong report issued yesterday on the Upper Big Branch (UBB) disaster by the West Virginia Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel (GIIP), the wisdom of putting these people into critical slots in Alpha must be called into serious question.
“The GIIP report details one case after another at UBB where the company’s safety record was one of willful disregard for the law and regulations. Indeed, the report points out that Massey’s culture of disdain for safety ‘can only be accepted where the deviant has become normal.’
“Who was directly responsible for this culture? None other than Chris Adkins, Massey Energy’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. This is the same Chris Adkins who was in charge when the Aracoma Alma mine caught on fire and two miners were killed. This is the same Chris Adkins who asserted his Fifth Amendment rights against incriminating himself in the UBB investigation and has yet to testify.
“Yet Chris Adkins is slated to be one of the people who Alpha said will ‘spearhead the implementation,’of its safety program. That’s frankly incomprehensible to me. Chris Adkins doesn’t belong in Alpha’s executive offices. He belongs in jail.
“Alpha’s also got a nice office waiting for Shane Harvey, Massey’s General Counsel, who is still pushing the ridiculous notion that the explosion at UBB was caused by some sort of natural gas inundation.
“The GIIP report is clear on the cause and the reason for the tremendous explosion: Massey failed to maintain the mine as it should be maintained, and it failed to do so because people like Chris Adkins just didn’t care whether it was safe or not.
“I wonder if Alpha is going to continue that ‘natural gas’ line of bull once it is responsible for Massey’s failings. I can only hope that they will not, because to do so would be to continue to insult the memory of the 29 miners killed by Massey’s Performance Coal that terrible day.”