December 01, 2014

In case you missed it

The Sunday New York Times had a good piece about the indictment of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on federal charges in the wake of the 2010 Upper Big Branch disaster that killed 29 West Virginia coal miners. 

I especially like the first three paragraphs, which lay out just how historical this really is:

 On a memorial to West Virginia’s most recent mining disaster, the silhouettes of 29 figures are etched into black granite, men posed with arms around each another like teammates.
On the back of the solemn slab, the disaster is put in the context of the state’s long history of coal tragedies, including a 1968 explosion that killed scores, and a dozen other deadly events earlier in the century.
In not one of those cases did a coal mine owner face criminal charges for the loss of life. That history ended in November, with the indictment of Donald L. Blankenship, the chief executive whose company owned the Upper Big Branch mine near here, where an explosion of methane gas in 2010 spread like a fireball through more than two miles of tunnels, feeding on illegally high levels of coal dust.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: whatever happens, this sends a message to future CEOs that there are limits to the games they can play with the lives of other people in their search for profit.

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