Well, now we know. Of the 31 people in the mine when it exploded, 2 lived and 29 didn't. The press will now go through the obligatory and inevitable post-mortem in which they finally deign to notice problems they just didn't have time to bother with as long as, you know, only a few people died because of them. They're only interested when a lot of people die. That's sexy, I guess, and one or two is just, like, boooooring. As for shameless flouting of health and safety laws? Yawn.
This week's blast comes after a year in which the Upper Big Branch mine had repeated problems with methane buildups. Since April 2009, federal regulators have cited the mine eight times for "substantial" violations relating to the mine's methane control plans, according to the records.
In two instances, the regulators found the mine operator was calibrating methane monitors every three months even though it is supposed to be done every 31 days. The delays in attending to the monitors meant they could not properly detect the gas, a risk inspectors said could lead to severe injuries or prove fatal.
On April 30, 2009, federal regulators found that the mine had failed to follow methane-related safety precautions. Regulators stopped work in a section of the mine until the ventilation was corrected.
The NYT, for instance, just got around to doing a little investigative work and discovered - surprise! - that Massey Energy, them what owns the mine, has been much more concerned about fighting all the fines they've been wracking up than they were about making sure the pisspoor safety conditions actually got, you know, fixed.