UMWA statement on incident at Upper Big Branch mine
date: April 5, 2010
TRIANGLE, VA – United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:
“The hearts and prayers of all UMWA members are with the families of those lost today at Performance Coal Company’s Upper Big Branch mine. We are also praying for the safe rescue of those still missing, and for the safety of the courageous mine rescue team members. They are putting their lives on the line, entering a highly dangerous mine to bring any survivors to safety.
“As a mine operated by a subsidiary of Massey Energy, the Upper Big Branch mine is a nonunion mine. Nevertheless, I have dispatched highly trained and skilled UMWA personnel to the immediate vicinity of the mine, and they stand ready to offer any assistance they can to the families and the rescuers at this terrible and anxious time. We are all brothers and sisters in the coalfields at times like this.
West Virginia Mine Explosion Worst Since 1984, Rescue Effort Underway
An April 5 explosion in a West Virginia coal mine killed at least 25 miners with others still unaccounted for. Methane gas, a likely cause of the explosion ripped through the mine. The Upper Big Branch Mine owned by the Massey Energy Company is the largest mine disaster since the 1984 Wilberg mine explosion in Utah that killed 27.
Gov. Manchin of West Virginia said in an April 5 statement, “This is devastating news and our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the miners who have died. We are offering everything we can to assist those families at this time. For those families who are still waiting for news on their missing loved ones, I want them to know that we are doing everything possible in cooperation with federal officials and the company to get our miners out as quickly and safely as possible.” The governor also spoke to President Obama, who promised federal assistance in the disaster.
In a statement this morning, President Obama said, “I spoke with Gov. Manchin of West Virginia last night and told him that the federal government stands ready to offer whatever assistance is needed in this rescue effort. So I would ask the faithful who’ve gathered here this morning to pray for the safe return of the missing, the men and women who put their lives on the line to save them, and the souls of those who have been lost in this tragic accident. May they rest in peace, and may their families find comfort in the hard days ahead.”
The hope is the trapped miners have found safety in special areas within the mine created after new regulations signed by President Bush in 2006 were created. These areas have oxygen, food and water to keep the trapped miners alive while waiting for assistance from rescuers. The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 also known as the “Miner Act” was enacted to help prevent disasters for an occupation with one of the highest death rates in America. This is the first major mining disaster since the act was signed into law in 2006.
Although The Upper Big Branch mine is a nonunion mine, the president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), President Cecil Roberts, dispatched UMWA personal to help in the rescue efforts. In a statement, Roberts said, “As a mine operated by a subsidiary of Massey Energy, the Upper Big Branch mine is a nonunion mine. Nevertheless, I have dispatched highly trained and skilled UMWA personnel to the immediate vicinity of the mine, and they stand ready to offer any assistance they can to the families and the rescuers at this terrible and anxious time. We are all brothers and sisters in the coalfields at times like this.”
Rescue efforts are still underway.