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DOL Inspector General report on MSHA's responsibilities at Crandall Canyon validates UMWA's stance

March 31, 2008

United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today regarding the report by the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding the responsibilities of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) with respect to the August, 2007 Crandall Canyon disaster:

    “This report validates what the UMWA has maintained from the very beginning of the investigation: MSHA did not follow its own regulations and procedures, was bullied by the mine operator, and did not take all the steps required to keep miners safe underground.

    “This is the second instance where independent government investigations into the events at Crandall Canyon have agreed with the UMWA’s long-stated positions regarding this tragedy, following the report by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy earlier this month. I applaud the thorough investigations conducted by both Sen. Kennedy and the OIG.

    “These reports are precisely why I called for an independent investigation of this tragedy back in September, because these are the kind of reports MSHA has never and would never issue. When MSHA investigates a mine fatality, all too often it is also investigating itself. That means the agency has a vested interest in deflecting responsibility if it can.

    “We’ve argued for years that many at the upper levels of MSHA are more interested in helping mine operators increase production than they are in helping miners stay safe. The Kennedy report and the OIG report both blow the lid off the internal workings of the agency, exposing for all to see what actually happens and confirming what we’ve said.

    “I sincerely hope that Congress will continue to dig deeper into this tragedy and the responsibility both MSHA and the mine operator bear and renew our call for the Department of Justice to conduct its own investigation. The truth must be finally brought to light.”

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