Deadly Record: Masseys Montcoal mine cited for 3,000 violations, over $2.2 million in fines

Thousands of Safety Violations at Upper Big Branch Mine

Massey Energy is actively contesting millions of dollars of fines for safety violations at its West Virginia coal mine where disaster struck this week.  Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has the story:

Twenty-five miners were killed and another four are missing after a explosion took place at 3 pm Monday at Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co.’s Upper Big Branch Mine-South between the towns of Montcoal and Naoma. It is “the most people killed in a U.S. mine since 1984, when 27 died in a fire at Emery Mining Corp.’s mine in Orangeville, Utah.” This deadly mine has been cited for over 3,000 violations by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), 638 since 2009:

Since 1995, Massey’s Upper Big Branch-South Mine has been cited for 3,007 safety violations. Massey is contesting 353 violations, and 127 are delinquent. [MSHA]

Massey is contesting over a third (34.7%) of the 516 safety citations the Upper Big Branch-South Mine received in 2009, its greatest count in the last 15 years. [MSHA]

In March 2010, 53 new safety citations were issued for Massey’s Upper Big Branch-South Mine, including violations of its mine ventilation plan. [MSHA]

Massey is now contesting $1,128,833 in fines for safety violations at the deadly Upper Big Branch-South Mine, with a further $246,320 in delinquent fines:

Over $2.2 million in fines have been assessed against Massey’s Upper Big Branch-South Mine since 1995, with $791,327 paid. Massey is contesting $1,128,833 in fines. Massey’s delinquent fines total $246,320. [MSHA]

Massey is contesting $251,613 in fines for citations for Upper Big Branch-South Mine’s ventilation plan. [MSHA]

Millions of Dollars in Safety Fines at Upper Big Branch Mine

Before yesterday’s tragic explosion, there have been three fatalities at Massey’s Upper Big Branch-South Mine in the last twelve years “” one each in 1998, 2001, and 2003. Massey’s corrupt CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce board member Don Blankenship, has previously told employees that it was more important to “run coal” than follow safety regulations.

In 2002, President George W. Bush “named former Massey Energy official Stanley Suboleski to the MSHA review commission that decides all legal matters under the Federal Mine Act,” and cut 170 positions from MSHA. Bush’s MSHA chief, Dick Stickler, was a former manager of Beth Energy mines, which “incurred injury rates double the national average.” On October 21, 2009, the Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s choice to replace Stickler, Joe Main, a “career union official and mine safety expert.” Massey’s Suboleski is still an active review commissioner.

Update Although Upper Big Branch-South is a non-union mine, the United Mine Workers of America has sent expert personnel to the site of the accident, said United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts:

We are all brothers and sisters in the coalfields at times like this.

8 Responses to Deadly Record: Masseys Montcoal mine cited for 3,000 violations, over $2.2 million in fines

  1. Ivy Bear says:

    Immoral bastards. Seems like it is time to revoke the corporate charter of Massey.

  2. wag says:

    The market is punishing Massey for its immorality – stock price is down 12% since the explosion.

  3. not for immorality! it’s for the beating the company’s going to take for this. profits will be down. the street is just fine with immorality.

  4. wag says:

    Also, as the FT Energy Source blog points out, let’s not forget that the explosion at the Massey mine comes on the heels of another deadly blast in a Chinese mine:

    [It shouldn’t go unmentioned that a similarly horrible coal mine disaster took place in China a few days earlier; with 32 miners still missing and five confirmed dead. The New York Times reports that although mine fatalities in China have fallen since 2002, it has amongst the world’s worst record. The Chinese government on Tuesday said more than 8,000 small coal mines “lacking in safety standards” would be closed down by the end of the year, Xinhua reported.]

    It’s clear that coal has had its time in the sun, and needs to be shut back in the dark underground from whence it came.

  5. PurpleOzone says:

    Nothing ever happened as to criminal charges in the Crandall Canyon collapse? The one where the mine owner insisted on chipping away the pillars and then claimed an earthquake did it? I find news items of considering criminal charges but no followup articles. Did Murray get off scot-free?

  6. Chad says:

    Blackenship should be held accountable: 25 counts of manslaughter seems completely appropropriate to me. This wasn’t some tragic accident, but rather the inevitable outcome of Massey’s corporate choices.

  7. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Massey’s political donations and resulting political power are just a small preview of what corporations will do under Citizens United. In California our private electrical utilities are funding a ballot measure to stop municipally-run utilities and Meg Whitman is buying the governorship.

  8. Brenda says:

    This more than speaks for itself…..
    (just a few “high points”—full piece @

    Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship reported $24 million in salary and stock options in 2007 and $11.2 million in 2008. Earlier this year, he cashed in 200,000 stock options pocketing $3.8 million.

    In 2002, President George W. Bush named Massey Energy executive Stanley Suboleski to the review commission of the Mine Safety and Health Administration that oversees enforcement-or lack thereof-of the Federal Mine Act. Blankenship contributed $3 million to elect a West Virginia Supreme Court Justice. He took one of the Supreme Court justices on a junket to the French Riviera.

    Blankenship is a major moneybag for the Republican Party contributing $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and thousands more to GOP Senate candidates Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Rob Portman in Ohio.