Remove a Murderer from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Justice for the Upper Big Branch Miners sign now

Remove a Murderer from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Justice for the Upper Big Branch Miners

The deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch South Mine in Montcoal, WV, which took the lives of 29 coal miners and injured several others, was a preventable tragedy. Massey Energy and its CEO Don Blankenship must be held accountable.

Just in the past month, federal inspectors from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cited Massey for 57 infractions at Upper Big Branch--including failing to develop and follow a ventilation plan. Other breaches included failing to control coal dust; inadequate protection from roof cave-ins; failing to mark and maintain escape routes; not having proper firefighting equipment; and allowing combustible materials to accumulate.

In 2009, the MSHA found nearly 500 violations at Upper Big Branch--including 48 classified as "unwarrantable failure orders," which are the most serious--and imposed hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

But like the other big mining companies, Massey rarely pays the full value of these penalties--if they pay anything at all. According to the Daily Mail, of the $1.5 million in fines issued against Massey since 2007, the company has paid less than $300,000. Management at the Upper Big Branch mine was in the process of challenging the most recent MSHA citations.

Upper Big Branch also reported an injury rate that was worse than average for seven of the last 10 years, and three miners have died on the job in the last 12 years.

After the Upper Big Branch disaster, Blankenship released a statement claiming that the company's "top priority is the safety of our miners and the well-being of their families."

But Massey's real priorities were revealed in an internal memo written by Blankenship in October 2005. The memo became public as part of a trial stemming from the death of two miners in a 2006 fire in another Massey mine in West Virginia.

In the memo, Blankenship wrote to mine superintendents: "If any of you has been asked by your group presidents, your supervisors, engineers or anyone else to do anything other than run coal (i.e., build overcasts, do construction jobs or whatever), you need to ignore them and run coal."

Mine "overcasts" are critical parts of a proper ventilation system, and "construction jobs" was Blankenship's veiled way of talking about other safety projects. The real meaning of the memo--that profits come first--was clear to everyone. As Blankenship concluded, "This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that coal pays the bills."

The only way to prevent further disasters like that at Upper Big Branch is to hold Blankenship and Massey Energy accountable for their reckless endangerment of lives in the pursuit of profit.

We, the undersigned, demand that Blankenship be immediately removed from the Board of Directors at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and that he and Massey Energy be investigated, with the appropriate criminal and civil charges leveled against them.

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  • 23 November 2015248. Nathalie A
    I support this petition
  • 12 November 2015247. Thomas F
    City Bradford,MA safety first
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  • 11 October 2015243. Alayna K
    City Craig I live in a community where there is 5 coal mines within 50 miles... If something like that had happened at one of our mines, someone would certainly be held accountable for the actions.
  • 08 October 2015242. Chuck S
    Affiliation None Excellent Idea !
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  • 12 September 2015237. Phil P
    City Chino Valley My grandfather was a coal miner who died of black lung. It is time for change.
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  • 12 August 2015235. Paul D
    Affiliation MSHA Employee (for ID only) City Pittsburgh May this robber-barron throwback die penniless on a sidewlk grate!
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  • 28 June 2015230. Adrienne B
    City Sunland, CA MAYBE IT'S THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE THAT OUGHT TO BE REMOVED.
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  • 20 June 2015228. Jane C
    City Portland, OR Put him on trial for murder
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    Out now!!!!

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Martin NealBy:
SustainabilityIn:
Petition target:
US Chamber of Commerce

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