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UMWA President Roberts statement on Senate HELP Committee report on Crandall Canyon disaster

March 6, 2008


MARCH 6, 2008

CONTACT: Phil Smith, 703-208-7241

UMWA statement on Senate HELP Committee Crandall Canyon report

United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) International President Cecil E. Roberts issued the following statement today:

    “The report released today by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP Committee) on the tragedy last August at Murray Energy’s Crandall Canyon mine in Utah underscores the need for the enhanced mine safety and health protections that are included in the Supplemental MINER Act (S-MINER) that passed the House of Representatives last year.

    “The report says that the mining plan that led to the cave-in at the mine was flawed and should not have been submitted by the company nor approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which echos what the UMWA has said from the very outset of the investigation into the tragedy. Language in the S-MINER Act would strengthen MSHA’s oversight regarding mining plans and provide extra accountability with respect to those who review and approve such plans.

    “The report also indicates that the mine’s operator, Bob Murray, far overstepped his bounds before the tragedy occurred, and that MSHA did not take the proper action to stop him–indeed, the report says that Murray ‘bullied MSHA and got away with it.’

    “The S-MINER Act contains language that clarifies and strengthens MSHA’s role and responsibilities in emergency situations and in providing information to the families of miners who are caught in an emergency. The S-MINER Act also gives the agency more tools to use against operators who have a consistent pattern of violations of the law and regulations.

    “We urge the HELP Committee to now take up the S-MINER Act as soon as possible and send it on to the full Senate. American coal miners are still dying just because they went to work. We need the enhanced protections the S-MINER Act provides. The terrible events at Crandall Canyon must never be forgotten and never be repeated.”

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