Officials React to Upper Big Branch Report - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Officials React to Upper Big Branch Report

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Officials were quick to react to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration's Upper Big Branch explosion report Tuesday afternoon.

The report was released on MSHA's website at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Corporate greed caused the explosion, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka said in a news release. Those responsible should face stiff penalties.

We await jail time for the culpable," he said in the news release. "Today's announcement of a $200 million global settlement of civil and criminal penalties against the company is a welcome beginning, but it is far from the end of the justice those 29 miners, and their families, deserve. The only way to make a real down payment on justice is to ensure the guilty serve appropriately stiff jail sentences."

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts echoed that sentiment.

"(Responsibility should be) on upper-level management at Massey who created the safety-last culture at that company," he said in a statement on the AFL-CIO website. "We firmly believe the evidence is there for such criminal prosecution. Until someone goes to jail, there will no justice done here."

Federal officials issued nearly $11 million in fines and 369 citations to Patriot Coal Co. and Massey Energy, the mine's owners at the time. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said in a news release that the penalties are stiff.

"The tragic explosion at Upper Big Branch left dozens of families without husbands, fathers, brothers and sons," she said. "I made a pledge to the families of those we lost, and the entire mining community, to conduct the most complete and thorough investigation possible in order to find the cause of this disaster.  The results of the investigation lead to the conclusion that PCC/Massey promoted and enforced a workplace culture that valued production over safety, and broke the law as they endangered the lives of their miners.  By issuing the largest fine in MSHA's history, I hope to send a strong message that the safety of miners must come first."