Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back In The News

Massey Energy Company, owner of the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died in an explosion in April, 2010, is back in the news. Another piece in the puzzle of why this tragedy occurred has fallen into place.

From the New York Times:

Kevin Stricklin, administrator for coal at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, described a dual accounting system practiced by Massey before the deadly explosion, in which safety problems and efforts to fix them were recorded in an internal set of books, out of sight of state inspectors, and off the official books that the law required them to keep. ...

Some of the findings echoed a report issued by an independent team of state investigators this month, which blamed Massey and a culture of impunity for the explosion. But these findings went further, saying that Massey took systematic and premeditated steps to circumvent government inspections.
[Emphasis added]

Pretty tricksy, that keeping of separate sets of books, not to mention reminiscent of the illegal practices of other crooked businesses. By keeping the safety hazards noted by employees and managers of the mine off the official books, government inspectors were kept in the dark about problems and therefore didn't follow up with the mine to make certain the problems had been rectified. Fewer inspections means more coal mined, which means more profits for the company. It's a pretty straightforward equation.

Of course, too often it also means more people dead. In this case, 29 more people dead.

Somebody tell me again why government regulations are bad, and I don't want any of that malarkey about them being "job killers." More is at stake here.

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