Don Blankenship indicted for causing the deaths of 29 coal miners

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Good morning:

Good news! Just when we thought the rich were immune from prosecution for killing people, a federal grand jury in West Virginia has indicted Don Blankenship, the former president and CEO of Massey Energy, for causing the deaths of 29 coal miners by placing profits ahead of safety.

The West Virginia Metro News reports.

The 43-page four-count federal indictment of former Massey Energy president and CEO Don Blankenship portrays an operator obsessive about upping production at the cheapest cost. Federal prosecutors allege it was an attitude that led to the deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County that killed 29 miners.

The indictment, announced Thursday by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, alleges Blankenship knew about UBB’s safety problems and the practice of alerting supervisors underground when federal mine inspectors arrived at UBB for inspections. It’s also alleged he lied to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission about mine safety in the days after the April 5, 2010 explosion in an attempt to help Massey’s stock price.

Blankenship was charged with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and securities fraud….

The indictment alleges Blankenship was driven by the numbers and in doing so ignored dozens of safety violations at UBB and covered up others. Federal prosecutors said from April 3, 2009, to April 5, 2010, Blankenship received 249 daily safety violation reports from the UBB mines but did very little to correct the problems.

Mark Karlin, Editor of Buzzflash at Truthout, writes

Blankenship is a nasty piece of work, even in the pitiless exploitative business of coal mining, but his outlook on profits before lives is not uncommon in the extraction industry and in corporations in general. Now, in the global “free trade” economy, companies are exporting that indifference to the primacy of life to sweat shop labor in nations such as Bangladesh (textiles) and China (hi-technology).

No one can bring back the lives of 29 miners who worked in grimy unsafe conditions, but the indictment is, for a moment, a glint of justice flashing through the overcast clouds of immunity for corporate outlaws.

Go here to read the indictment.

We need a lot more prosecutions like this one.

5 Responses to Don Blankenship indicted for causing the deaths of 29 coal miners

  1. sonniq says:

    YAY!!! Once in awhile the good guys need to win – although in this case we can’t say that those miners won. But justice won for a change. The focus of my writing is all on the injustice of our justice system with the prison system, so yes, it really is good that justice was served with this one. Even so, when he gets there, I don’t want him treated inhumanely. That needs to stop in our prisons. He just needs to sit and learn why what he did was wrong and hopefully learn from it – for however many years they gave him.

  2. Trained Observer says:

    Off Topic: Ferguson resident records portion of run-in with bully boy officer Darren Wilson. Fool doesn’t know a pitbull from a bulldog.

  3. Malisha says:

    When the mine owners never pay their fines, which have been levied for violations of the various federal mine safety regulations, they naturally become impervious to restraint, correction, regulation, and moral imperative. Like abusers who are rewarded for their behavior, these greed-driven self-proclaimed capitalistic demigods (who own Congress and nearly all their local governmental agencies) become worse and worse when they are allowed to get away with bad behavior. Every child-care worker, parent or teacher of young children understands that if a child is encroaching on the other children’s rights, and you allow that behavior to continue, you produce a world-class bully.

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