‘Criminal’ Update for Miner Bob

“Through its investigation of the tragic accidents last year at Crandall Canyon, MSHA determined that the operator and its engineering consultants demonstrated reckless disregard for safety,” said Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for MSHA. “MSHA has referred this case for possible criminal charges.”

Saw this item very early one morning last week and made a mental note to remember it. Then got sidetracked with home-front issues.  Now, I’m not sure just how ‘brave’ this might be considered on the part of MSHA.

The two cave-ins or ‘product of seismic activity ‘ that, as Miner Bob preferred to name them,  resulted initially and most likely in the immediate deaths of six miners: Kerry Allred, Don Erickson, Luis Hernandez, Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips, and Manuel Sanchez.  Their bodies have yet to be recovered, if in fact they ever will.  Rescue efforts were suspended a week later (Aug. 17th) when another explosion killed three rescue workers: MSHA inspector Gary Jensen, miners Dale Black and Brandon Kimber. Six others were injured during that sad time on August 17th.

A quote that has stayed with me is this one because I could just visualize it.  The illusion is in the belief you can do almost do something to stop it by just reaching further, pushing harder . . . .

“I don’t think I’m going too far to say the mountain is collapsing in slow motions,” Lee Siegal, a spokesman for the university, told The Associated Press.

Contrast the referral of Murray Energy, et.al, for possible criminal charges with what was done to those MSHA employees who cooperated in the investigation conducted under the umbrella of MSHA by two retired “former MSHA officials” who were adamant about following to wherever it led to get to bottom line when it came to finding out the cause of the collapse(s).  Of course, those at The Pump Handle can explain better than I.

These two men, Mssrs Earnest Teaster and Joseph Pavlovich, were able to get into the nitty-gritty of finding out what led to the collapse of the mine at Crandall Creek and to the deaths, ultimately, of nine miners. The Salt Lake City Tribune, who has done a masterful job of keeping track of the shit happenings surrounding that disaster, has an editorial blasting Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, as well as her primary foot solder, Richard Stickler.

“One MSHA employee stated ‘everybody got fired there at least once.’ Another MSHA employee stated that Stickler threatened to ‘fire us all. It wasn’t just me. It was fire us all and get more players, if we couldn’t get it in that book the way he wanted it.’ Still another MSHA employee said ‘I tried to give any explanation to [Stickler] as to why we’re down or they had a bounce. He said very specifically ‘I don’t want to hear that. I want to know how far they’ve advanced and what the footage on the props is.’(TPH)

Mr. Teaster and Mr. Pavlovich were able to get information when deposing “MSHA staffers” because they promised to make the names of those providing the information – secret.

And despite being authorized by the U.S. Department of Labor, of which MSHA is part and parcel, the probe hit the mother lode.

Investigators unearthed multiple problems at the mine safety agency that contributed to the deaths of nine persons – six miners and three would-be rescuers – at Crandall Canyon last August. More importantly, it offered 81 recommendations that can help MSHA improve its performance, avert future tragedies and save lives.

Apparently that wasn’t enough for Chao (OR Stickler); she had to have the names of those who dared to offer solutions or recommendations to “avert future tragedies and save lives.”  What was the point of all that? The dispensability of workers whose real safety is of no concern to the very agency formed to protect the American workers?

Former MSHA director Davitt McAteer said the Labor Department’s actions undermine its claims that the investigation was independent. But equally bad, he said, “they gave this to two trusted, very level-headed people and now . . . instead of focusing on the conclusions, there is an effort to determine where the information came from.”

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