Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Futurism
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

06.23 From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots

06.23 Latest diesel car models remain highly polluting, tests show

06.23 Norway issues $1bn threat to Brazil over rising Amazon destruction [Good!]

06.22 Al Gore: battle against climate change is like fight against slavery [videos]

06.22 Top global banks still lend billions to extract fossil fuels [who holds the debt when the music stops?]

06.22 Australian health groups urge coal phase-out and strong emissions reduction

06.22 Tories aim to block full EU ban on bee-harming pesticides [what could go wrong...]

06.22 Route to recovery: how people overcome an opioid addiction

06.21 U.S. Coastal Cities Will Flood More Often and More Severely, Study Warns

06.21 London mayor issues emergency air quality alert amid heatwave

06.21 Exxon, BP and Shell back carbon tax proposal to curb emissions

06.21 Climate goals: inside California's effort to overhaul its ambitious emissions plan

06.20 We Can’t Fight Climate Change if We Keep Lying to Ourselves

06.20 A third of the world now faces deadly heatwaves as result of climate change

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

06.24 Medicaid cuts in the Senate healthcare bill are going to hit some states hard – here's who will feel it

06.24 Elizabeth Warren Says Key Thing to Know About Trumpcare Bill: 'This Is Blood Money' [video]

06.24 How the Senate's Health-Care Bill Would Cause Financial Ruin for People With Preexisting Conditions

06.24 Watch Elizabeth Warren nail exactly what Planned Parenthood does — and why we need it

06.24 Late-night hosts blast Trumpcare: 'Needless suffering for low and middle-income people'

06.23 THE INTELLECTUAL UNDERPINNING OF A “MEAN” REPUBLICAN PARTY

06.23 Single-Payer Healthcare for California Is, In Fact, Very Doable

06.23 Why The Koch Brothers Have So Much Influence On Trump: It Starts With Pence

06.23 Thomas Frank on the Demise of the Democratic Party [15:52 video; excellent, make full screen]

06.23 Exxon, Stephen Hawking, greens, and Reagan’s advisors agree on a carbon tax

06.23 Obama attacks Republican health bill as 'massive transfer of wealth' to the rich

06.22 Industry Was Doubly Generous With These 13 GOP Senators Now Drafting Trumpcare

06.22 3 mn will own 70% of US Wealth generated by 320 mn by 2021

06.22 Is American Childhood Creating an Authoritarian Society?

06.22 Leftwing Democrats say Jon Ossoff loss shows 'massive failure' of party's elites

Justice Matters

06.23 This North Carolina Law Is Straight Out of “The Handmaid’s Tale” [legal immorality...]

06.23 The Supreme Court Defends the Integrity of U.S. Citizenship

High Crimes?

06.23 'I buried my smallest child under a bush': starvation and sorrow in South Sudan

Economics, Crony Capitalism

06.23 Exclusive: Fake online stores reveal gamblers' shadow banking system

06.22 Top global banks still lend billions to extract fossil fuels [who holds the debt when the music stops?]

06.21 Gaius Publius: Finding the Greater Fool — The Elite Logic Behind “Going Over the Climate Cliff”

06.19 European commission to crack down on offshore tax avoidance [Trump is likely to further facilitate tax avoidance]

International & Futurism

06.24 Turkish schools to stop teaching evolution, official says [“Stupid is as stupid does.” – Forrest Gump]

06.24 In a world ruled by rumour, it is vital that scientists speak with humility and clarity

06.24 Only 2% of US Politicians Actually Want to Stop Arming Terrorists — Here’s Why [our pro-gun culture spillith over]

06.23 Iran nuclear chief warns US over support for Saudi Arabia

06.23 Rival groups vie for supremacy as fight against Isis reaches tipping point

06.23 Farms hit by labour shortage as migrant workers shun 'racist' UK

06.22 Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine

06.22 All Signs from Trump Point to a Coming Conflict with Iran [war doesn't "fix" anything; it can only make more war]

06.22 You Do Not Think Alone [be selective of what and who influences your "hive mind"]

06.21 Trump's silence after the London mosque attack speaks volumes

06.21 Drive to get children back to school failing worldwide

06.20 Power Causes Brain Damage [The powerful could mentally put their OCD-for-power aside to have empathy (again?) if they tried]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Davitt McAteer's Crusade for Safe Mines

COMMENTARY:

Davitt McAteer’s Crusade for Safe Mines

by James Ridgeway
First published in Mother Jones on Thursday, 8 March 2010

The Miner Act mandated a communications system that tracked the whereabouts of trapped miners. Only 8 percent of U.S. mines have installed such a system in the four years since the law was passed...

In Anderson Cooper’s CNN reports on the horror and grief following the deaths of 25 miners at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, the anchor turned to Davitt McAteer to explain what was going on.  For more than 30 years, McAteer has been there through one coal mine disaster after another, pleading for reform.

The key questions in the Massey tragedy are the same as those that were asked following the deaths of 13 miners in Sago, West Virginia, in 2006. Following that incident, many questioned why the federal government would not mount an aggressive drive to enforce safety regulations in the nation’s mines. Neither the Bush administration nor Congress showed any serious willingness to tackle this problem head on. All that came out of the investigations was passage of the Miner Act, which required mines to set up secure areas where trapped workers could seal themselves off with enough food and water to last four days, in the hope that rescuers could reach them in that time. The law also mandated a communications system that tracked the whereabouts of trapped miners. Only 8 percent of U.S. mines have installed such a system in the four years since the law was passed, McAteer told me on the phone yesterday.

These communications systems are not rocket science. As far back as 1998, government and the mine industry were aware of technology that would allow them to stay in contact with trapped miners, as I wrote in a piece for the Village Voice following the Sago disaster:

On November 25, 1998, a fire occurred at the Cyprus Plateau Mining Corporation’s Willow Creek Mine, near Price, Utah. Here is how the Labor’s Department MSHA website described what happened there: “The shift foreman ordered an evacuation using a unique system which operates like a pager that was worn by some miners. This ‘PED’ system (Personal Emergency Device), allowed for constant contact with the miners, even those working in remote areas. After the accident, a text message was sent to the miners–’mine fire-evacuate’. The 45 miners were safely evacuated in about 45 minutes.

Similar communications systems have been more widely used in mines in Australia and elsewhere. By one estimate, the total cost of providing PEDs for workers in a mine the size of Sago would have been about $100,000.

The Massey disaster was caused by a methane explosion. “The numbers of volume [of the gas] are just huge,” McAteer said. “[Normally] the ventilation system should take care of it. But something failed.” He continued: “There is a record of terrible practices in the mine. Terrible.” So if the government knew of these violations, why wasn’t the mine shut down? McAteer said that the government could have done so—”if they had the balls.”

McAteer has been an often-lonely crusader for mine safety reform. I remember riding with him in a car in the 1960s down the narrow roads of the Appalachian coal country at night, during the efforts to oust the corrupt boss of the United Mine Workers union, Tony Boyle. We were scared to death. We kept watching out the back window for cars tailing us. We feared that we would be run off the narrow twisting roads that cut into the hillsides, with nothing but ravines far below. I remember wishing we had a gun. That coal field struggle ended with the election of Arnold Miller, a reform candidate, but not before the leading crusader, Joseph Yablonski, and his wife and daughter were shot and killed by Boyle operatives in 1969. (Boyle was later convicted for the murders.)

McAteer took me and other reporters all over the West Virginia coal fields, from mine to mine, to black-lung protest groups, to visit working miners and their families. He talked Consolidation Coal, then the industry leader, into letting us tour one of the company’s deep mines. He was the heartbeat of the reform effort—polite, diplomatic, cheerful, and most of all persistent. 

Davitt started his career as one of Nader’s Raiders in Washington in the late 1960s. He fought for change in the coalfields—a struggle that culminated in the landmark 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act. In the 1970s, after Boyle had been ousted from the UMW, he led the union’s health and safety programs. From 1994 through 2000 he was Bill Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of Labor in charge of mine safety. After Sago, West Virginia governor Joe Manchin asked McAteer to conduct an independent investigation, and he later testified before Congress in hearings that led to passage of the Miner Act of 2006.

All this time, McAteer has been searching for meaning in the coal business. He conducted a historical investigation of the most terrible disaster in the nation’s history at the Monongah mine in West Virginia, where on the morning of December 6,1907, 500 men and boys were killed. They left behind hundreds of women and more than 1,000 children. It was this disaster that ultimately led to a better understanding of industrial working conditions and paved the way for the first federal coal mine act. McAteer’s 30 years of work became a book, Monongah. But as the tragic events at Massey have shown, his work is far from over.

This post originally appeared on MotherJones.com.


Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.

Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.

Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found at JamesRidgeway.net and at his newest web site, Solitary Watch.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on April 12, 2010.
 

Public Service Ads: