Testimony of the Families of Crandall Creek miners

Two of the opening statements and some of the most powerful – potent – testimony was from Wendy Black, wife of Dale “Bird” Black. She spoke of their time together shortly before he died and his worries about the condition of that mine.

Another was that of Cesar Sanchez, brother of miner Manuel Sanchez, who spoke a bit haltingly but determinedly.

First, Wendy Black, and then Cesar Sanchez.

Outside of Mr. Murray’s callousness and Mr. Stickler’s ineptness, a couple of things struck me while listening and watching the hearing. One was about the expectations relative to the mine owner(s) and MSHA. The other was simply regarding the pure lack diligence and professionalism of MSHA when it comes to the safety of miners, and deficient inspection schedules and inappropriate approval of plans

Jon Huntsman gave the analogy of his expectation of MSHA was akin to their flying in on a C-130, parachuting in all those necessary to take charge and get things rolling. Efficient, organized. However, there was none of that. There were no clear lines of demarcation; no clear line of decision-making. No clarity on WHO was the authority and WHO had it. (Clearly, it would not be the mine owners.)

The entire approval process and the length of time, specifically, for Crandall Canyon was abysmal at best. As Steve Allred pointed out, there was coal being mined that quite simply ‘held the mountain up’ and when that was pulled down, what did they expect would happen.

One other thing that was specifically referred to several times was when it came to MSHA, the harshest, exacting criticism was not being directed at those MSHA employees who enter the mine as miners or with the miners, but at the policy makers – “those at the top”, those whose interest is in maintaining the status quo for the mining industry and this administration.

But you know what? There were a couple of times when the chair of the Education & Labor Committee, George Miller, spoke today and this is an issue on which he appears to be passionate. That can only be a good thing for worker safety.

Committee on Education & Labor, U.S. House.

Crandall Creek hearing link

2007 Mine Health and Safety Initiative


2 Responses

  1. This is my family. How do I download a copy of this video?

  2. Which family?

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