Don Blankenship announced today that coal miner Frankie Domingo says his life was saved last night by a Massey Coal mine safety innovation called a “dozer submarine kit”. Frankie was operating a dozer on a large coal pile at Alpha’s Mammoth Mine in Kanawha County, West Virginia when it became submerged in the coal pile. In past incidences of this type miners have been smothered to death but thanks to the Massey innovation, which is now required by West Virginia law but not by United States federal law, Frankie went home tonight with no injuries whatsoever.
The “dozer submarine kit” consists of reinforced windows strong enough to withstand the pressure of being buried in a coal pile, emergency lighting so the buried miner can see, a communication system so that he can talk to his rescuers, methane and oxygen monitors which allow the miner to know whether he needs a self-rescue breathing device, and the self-rescuer itself which allows the miner to breath if he needs it. The “submarine kit” is just one of dozens of safety devices innovated and put into service under Don Blankenship’s guidance while he was President of Massey Energy.
Don stated that it is safety devices such as the “submarine kit” that will keep miners safer not political slogans. He further stated that it is critical to miner safety that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) no longer be allowed to investigate itself and that MSHA must stop interfering with and delaying the use of new technologies which can improve miner safety.
Don also said that the twenty-nine miners who lost their lives at Upper Big Branch (UBB) would be alive today if MSHA had listened to Massey engineers and to the UBB miners. He continued “MSHA even today is idling dust scrubbers, blaming most accidents on injured and perished miners, and delaying the use of technologies and changes in the law that could prevent another UBB like explosion. Thank goodness that West Virginia lawmakers, unlike MSHA, made the “submarine kit” mandatory under West Virginia state law”.
Blankenship said that preventing another UBB like natural gas explosion needed to be a focal point for MSHA. He added, that Morgan Massey has personally funded the development of a fiber optic sensor system that will monitor a mine’s atmosphere for methane content throughout the mine and send the data to a computer in real time. MSHA, as is typical of them, has been slow to embrace the new technology and as a result it is still not available to the mining industry. Additionally, four years ago, Don made several additional recommendations to Congress that would help prevent another UBB like explosion and yet no action was ever taken.
Frankie Domingo and all miners deserve the best safety equipment, safety laws, safety practices, and safety technologies available if they are to be kept as safe as they can possibly be. Don is therefore renewing his request that “coal state” federal legislators quit using miners as political pawns and instead take meaningful actions to keep them safer.