Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Energy Company and candidate for U.S. Senate, issued the following statement regarding a new ad, which his campaign announced today.
This ad makes clear that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) team was not conducting an investigation to determine what happened at Upper Big Branch (UBB) on April 5, 2010. MSHA was instead focused on finding support for President Obama’s and Chief Coal Regulator Kevin Stricklin’s proclamations prior to the investigation that the operator (Massey Energy Company) was at fault.
The evidence of a government cover-up is overwhelming. The documents we have which support the ad and the actual MSHA mine investigation report itself are perfect examples of why MSHA should not be allowed to investigate itself. An investigation team that has a “shredding party” and whose chief says, “his only comment is stick a dagger into Massey” are clearly not independent investigators. They are also clearly not attempting to find the truth. Additionally, when investigation team members are afraid of losing their job while they are investigating the work performance of their own colleagues, their own bosses and their friends, it is far less likely that they will tell the truth even if they should find it.
All the shocking quotes shown on the screen during the ad are direct quotes of MSHA investigation team members. However, our government is still hiding many documents, emails, and statements. What more grotesque example of improper government behavior can there be than for the government itself to cause the deaths of 29 coal miners; claim the deceased miners killed themselves; and then say the public is not entitled to see the government’s (i.e. the people’s) own emails because they are declared “privileged” by the same government?
This 30-second ad can only divulge the tip of the iceberg. The truth is that it is easy to tell (even from the limited information we have) that MSHA investigators knew that the MSHA dictated airflow reduction was a major contributor to the explosion. This is true regardless of what type of explosion occurred (i.e. whether it was gas or coal dust). It’s obvious they understood the airflow’s importance because we also have information that MSHA investigators spent a great deal of time reviewing how the ventilation plan came about.
There is evidence in the information we have that the MSHA investigation team wanted to place fault for the “defective” ventilation system on Massey. In other words, the investigation team tried to find a way to pin the ventilation plan they referred to as “defective” on Massey, but they could not. Realizing they could not blame anyone but themselves they simply chose to ignore and hide the importance of the ventilation plan to the explosion.
In fact, in their investigation report they go to great lengths to recite the history of the ventilation plan’s development. Yet, they never say what MSHA’s refusal to approve the Massey ventilation plan meant in terms of airflow. What it meant was a 50% reduction in airflow across the miners back. Airflow that might have saved the miners lives even if everything else in the MSHA Investigation report were true. But again– their report is not true.
MSHA clearly realized that they had a problem. They turned to slandering the coal miners to explain the explosion. They claimed inadequate rock dusting by the miners particularly in the “tailgate” area of the mine. Yet information we have received is that they inspected the tailgate four times in 2010 and not long before the explosion. Also, there were no outstanding MSHA rock dusting violations at all. So, they also blame missing bits and water sprays for causing the original ignition. But bits and sprays are common mining challenges in mines cutting sandstone and they cannot possibly cause an explosion no matter their condition unless methane levels are over 5%. The way mines prevent the methane from reaching 5% is a lot of airflow.
MSHA’s own words both before the explosion and during their explosion investigation tell the same story. They covered-up the truth. They slandered the miners. They know the truth. They should never ever be allowed to investigate themselves ever again.