More trouble in Harlan County

What’s up with all the mine explosions and cave-ins lately? There’s more trouble in Harlan County

Saturday’s explosion was the deadliest mining incident in the state since 1989, when 10 miners died in a western Kentucky mine blast, state officials said.

The national death toll from coal mining accidents is now 31 this year, with 10 of them in Kentucky.

Y’know, this isn’t some sort of odd coincidence

Sago Mine was cited for repeated safety violations over the past two years, including multiple citations for inadequate ventilation and failure to fully secure the mine against a roof collapse. The Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a total of 208 citations for alleged violations at the site last year, up from 68 in 2004.
Most of the citations were issued before the current owners took over the mine in November, but International Coal Group Inc. was cited by the federal government three times in five days in December for allowing flammable coal dust to collect in a work area. Those citations were among 17 issued last year at the mine for ”accumulation of combustible materials.” Anker West Virginia was the former owner.
The violations last year have drawn total fines of $24,000, with scores of penalties for the minimum of $60. Some citations issued late in the year have not been assessed fines yet, but the amount of the fines has led Democrats to raise questions about Bush administration oversight of industry.
”One might expect massive penalty assessments under federal law for such a dismal record,” Representative George Miller of California, the top Democrat on the House committee that oversees labor issues, wrote yesterday to the committee chairman, John A. Boehner, and formally requested an investigation.
”These penalties included assessments for noncompliance with requirements related to mine ventilation plans, accumulation of combustible materials, and roof support,” the letter continued. ”Most of the fines ranged from $60 to $440, despite what would appear to be repeat violations.”
The White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, defended the Bush administration’s record of mine enforcement. He called it a top priority for the first five years President Bush has been in office.

Oh, well, if Scott McClellan said it… then, uh… something….

Under Bush, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has worked more closely with mine owners than under previous presidents, according to union officials. The government has formed formal ”partnerships” between companies and agency officials and is shying away from imposing heavy fines and sanctions, said Phil Smith, a spokesman for United Mine Workers of America.

Isn’t that special? Domestic partnerships for coal corporations…

Shorter Bush Administration:
Dear Working People: Fuck You.

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