The Times West Virginian


February 13, 2013

Why aren’t mine safety standards enforced?

Let’s say the speed limit was changed on an interstate in your area — changed from 70 mph to 50. But all the motorists just kept driving 70 and above and no citations were issued.

Or say texting while driving. Let’s say everyone is doing it and no one is charged even through they are deliberately breaking the new law against texting while driving. This would also be a serious crime, don’t you agree?

So what if no one was enforcing the new state regulations aimed at reducing buildups of explosive coal dust in underground mines? More than a fifth of the more than 5,500 dust samples taken from mines by state regulators since August 2011 didn’t comply with the standards.

There have been no citations issued by the State Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training. Not any. None. Nada.

David McAteer, the Fairmont native who was appointed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin to lead the independent team to investigate the 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine, called what has been happening, or not been happening, a charade.

“They are going through some motions,” McAteer said, “but nothing has happened. The dust issue was absolutely the most critical failure at the Upper Big Branch mine and three years later, there’s still not a preventative measure in place to keep it from happening again.”

Those are strong words indeed.

Dennis O’Dell, also a Fairmont native, serves as safety director for the United Mine Workers. He says the state has been “dragging its feet too long. If the state is finding violations and they are not issuing citations, then shame on them. Why even do it if you’re not going to use it as an enforcement tool?” These were also strong words by O’Dell.

The standards were issued by Manchin nine days after the deadly explosion. Back then everybody was eager to do whatever was necessary so such a tragedy would never happen again. New regulations were issued. It seemed apparent that the new standards would be followed.

But this most recent report says they have not been.

Randy Harris, a consultant to the mine safety agency, said operators are being notified of the sample results. He said state officials are pushing mine operators to address any dust-control problems. He says his group has been “harassing them to death.”

Just whom is to be believed?

The strong words coming from McAteer and O’Dell are good enough for us. When human lives are involved, people shouldn’t be playing around with mandates from higher-ups on things that should be done — on steps that should be taken.

Text Only
  • State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core

    It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
    So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
    Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.

    July 30, 2014

  • Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.

    July 29, 2014

  • United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project

    The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
    That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.

    July 27, 2014

  • COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard

    I love to talk to readers.
    I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.

    July 27, 2014

  • Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial

    NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
    And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.

    July 25, 2014

  • Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives

    It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
    We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads