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Mining Accidents Continue Unabated

Via Al-Jazeera:

At least 28 miners have been killed and 12 others remain missing, after a coal mine explosion in Indonesia’s Sumatra island, officials say.

Rescuers working overnight and into Wednesday morning pulled bodies from the mine in Sawahlunto regency, after what is suspected to have been an explosion caused by leaking methane gas on Tuesday.

Miners still trapped have been underground for more than 30 hours, officials said.

It has also been reported that those trapped are likely dead due to the gases leaking.  This was a locally owned and smaller mine, so it’s unimaginable that it would be required to meet any kind of standard in relation to worker rights, worker safety.

More here via localized news media.


A Fine Piece of Fuckery – The W.R. Grace Verdict

Ah, the W.R. Grace verdict of “not guilty.” I wanted to let the verdict sink in before attempting to write coherently and without the use of any variation of fuck, i.e., fuckery, motherfuckers – that kind of thing. It hasn’t worked.

Because – it could indeed be defined as a fine piece of fuckery.

The thing most stunning was the length of time the jury spent in consultation and deliberation. Continue reading

Trial of Mining Giant W.R. Grace & The People of Libby, Montana

While the Crandall Creek odyssey was unfolding, I happened upon the documentary ‘Libby, Montana.’  The most shocking as touted by Earl Lovick during deposition, as manager of the mine for the W. R. Grace corporation, that the “the dangers of vermiculite” were considered to be “common knowledge.”   The documentary also enjoyed a stint on PBS on the series P.O.V.


“Most extensive environmental criminal trial in U.S. history’ begins Monday”

“A Missoula federal court is the setting for a showdown between the federal government and W.R. Grace, which stands accused of deliberately concealing the dangers of tremolite-tainted vermiculite from the people of Libby Montana.” Continue reading

‘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. Continue reading

Some News on Crandall Canyon Mine

coalminer.jpgIt seems to me Bob Murray should be up and testifying SOME time SOON about his role, as well as that of Murray Energy, in the mining disaster at Crandall Canyon last August.

There is, however, this bit of news on a $400K plus fine from MSHA for the flagrant violation of safety precautions. There’s a four-page PDF from MSHA giving the citation information. (The Salt Lake Tribune has an article also.)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has assessed $420,300 in fines against Andalex Resources Inc. for violations relating to potential fire and explosion hazards at the Aberdeen Mine in Price, Utah. Two citations issued Oct. 26, 2006, and June 20, 2007, were assessed as “flagrant violations” under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act based on the operator’s repeated violation of the same safety standard. Robert E. Murray controls Andalex Resources Inc., which operates the mine.

October of 2006, 10 months prior to the collapse at Crandall Canyon; June 2007 – some six weeks prior to the collapse. Continue reading

Crandall Canyon Report is Out

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension released their 75-page report on Crandall Canyon.

Nine miners died in August in the Crandall Canyon mine because Murray Energy Corp. cut coal it was not supposed to — ignoring numerous warnings that its work was making the mine unstable — and was allowed to do so by a bullied and complicit federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Having reached that conclusion in a scathing report released Thursday, a Senate committee headed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said “the secretary of labor should refer the case to the Department of Justice for prosecution.”

Because I’m at work, I’m going to refer you to Bob Higgins at ‘The Agonist’ and my fellow unruly blogmate, Jenn – who is in Utah and has been following this as well.  She has a diary up at Kos’s place.

“Bullied and complicit”  MSHA.   Yeah no shit.  And – keep in mind who the Secretary of Labor is and to whom she’s married. 

I’ve scanned over the report and will look over it more thoroughly so I can write coherently about it.  But Jenn and Bob both did excellent jobs in background and spelling out the disaster that occurred last August.

Miner Bob’s Testimony Postponed

Mea culpa….forgot to pass this along –

miner-bob.jpgMiner Bob’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee was postponed due to a scheduling conflict.

According to the office of Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the subcommittee’s top Republican, no new date has been set, but some Senate sources said Dec. 14 could be the new date. The staff of Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, was on a staff retreat and could not be reached.