Congressional report blames Murray Energy, MSHA for mine disaster.

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WASHINGTON  (Salt Lake Tribune) March 6 –

 A congressional committee says the operator of the Crandall Canyon mine, where nine people died in separate cave-ins last year, ignored substantial warning signs, may have been conducting unauthorized mining and had an illegal agreement with federal regulators on reporting standards.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committed released a scathing report on Thursday laying blame for the tragedy also on the Mine Safety and Health Administration for missing “significant flaws” in engineering analysis of the mine and ignoring several red flags, including an earlier cave-in that the report says should have been more thoroughly probed.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., says the report shows a need for a full, criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

“The committee’s investigation has revealed that the owner of Crandall Canyon mine, Murray Energy, disregarded dangerous conditions at the mine, failed to tell federal regulators about these dangers, conducted unauthorized mining and — as a result — exposed its miners to serious risks,” Kennedy said in a statement. “MSHA also unconscionably failed to protect miners by hastily rubber-stamping the plan. This is a clear case of callous disregard for the law and for safety standards, and hardworking miners lost their lives.”

A spokesman for MSHA, Matthew Faraci, says speculation by Kennedy’s staff is inappropriate while the agency’s Accident Investigation Team is still preparing its official report to determine the root causes of this accident.

Michael O. McKown, general counsel of UtahAmerican Energy, Inc., the subsidiary of Murray Energy that operated the mine, issued a statement shortly after Kennedy released his report, saying the company is shocked and outraged at such “serious and biased allegations.”

“This report is politically motivated, irresponsible and unjustified,” McKown said, calling it political grandstanding by some of the committee’s members.

“This sensational and irresponsible report makes slanderous allegations against innocent individuals. We are confident that, with a full review of the facts, this will be established,” he said.

Link to the report.

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One Response to “Congressional report blames Murray Energy, MSHA for mine disaster.”

  1. minervoice Says:

    MSHA is calling this “premature” because it is exactly the kind of report MSHA itself would never release. Too much truth in it. Thanks to UMWA President Roberts for calling on Congress early on to do an independent investigation of this disaster. From what I read in the report, there’s probable cause for homicide charges of some sort.

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