Coal mining in W.Va. will be suspended today to show respect to the 29 Upper Big Branch miners who died in a mine explosion on April 5. As requested by Gov. Joe Manchin, miners and mining officials will come together to review mine safety measures.
April 16 will be known as a “day of honor and mourning” and will allow mine operators, miners and the state to discuss different safety rules and regulations. This approach, of listening to the actual men inside the mines, will help officials better understand their needs and expectations and hopes to prevent any future disasters of this magnitude.
“I am asking every underground mine operator and miner to go to work on that day and commit one day focused completely on making their workplace as safe as possible,” Manchin said in a public statement, “in honor of the miners we lost at Upper Big Branch. No other family should experience the loss that the Upper Big Branch families are experiencing.”
To be clear Manchin reiterated he is not solely calling for a day to stop production – this day is to be used for all mine employees to focus on the importance of the safety precautions they have been taught. The expectation for today is to hold a thorough review of procedures and take any actions needed to fully comply with health and safety standards.
Manchin has also ordered immediate state inspections of all underground mines.
“I’m also directing our state mine safety inspectors to turn their attention to mine ventilation, rock dusting and electrical equipment issues that could post a hazard,” Manchin said. “They’ll start with the mines that have been cited repeatedly for these combustion risks during the last year and take immediate steps to ensure compliance with the law.”
In response Massey Energy Company, owner of Upper Big Branch Mine, issued the following statement: “We agree with the Governor’s request and believe it is an appropriate way t honor the miners we lost in the Upper Big Branch tragedy. Massey will use this as an opportunity to reflect on the events of April 5th and will focus our attention on safety and training.”