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UMWA safety experts prepare to enter Sago mine after federal court ruling

date: 
January 26, 2006

A team of safety experts from the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) prepared to join federal and state investigators at Sago mine in Upshur County, W. Va. today after federal court Judge Robert E. Maxwell, of the Northern District of West Virginia, issued a preliminary injunction ordering that the union's safety representatives shall have the right to participate in this investigation, consistent with federal law. The judge found that there would likely be irreparable harm if the UMWA representatives were denied such access.

"The law is very clear on this," said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts. "The miners who requested UMWA representation did so properly and legally, and the judge ordered ICG to abide by the law and regulations of the United States.

"It's time for ICG to stop its delaying tactics at the Sago mine, stop lying about the facts of the UMWA's involvement with this investigation and get on with the critical need to find out exactly what happened at Sago so that we can all take steps to see that it never happens again at Sago or any other mine in America," Roberts said. "That has been and remains the UMWA's only focus in this investigation.

"ICG has spent countless hours and wasted valuable time with its baseless attacks on the UMWA," Roberts said. "Meanwhile, the Sago miners, the families of the victims of this disaster and the American public cry out for answers. Let's get on with it, and find the answers to the questions surrounding this tragedy."

The UMWA safety experts will join with investigation teams from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the State of West Virginia at 3:00 pm today at the Sago mine to begin the underground phase of the investigation.

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