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Responsibility for Upper Big Branch at Issue in DC

Posted in on Thu, Apr 12, 2012

On March 27, Assistant Secretary for MSHA, Joe Main, testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce about MSHA’s investigation into the April 2010 Upper Big  Branch mine explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 miners.  You can read his testimony at http://www.dol.gov/_sec/media/congress/20120327_Main.htm.  At debate in DC now is who is to blame for Upper Big Branch, MSHA or the mine, touched off by a report released by NIOSH on March 22 (http://www.msha.gov/PerformanceCoal/NIOSH/Independent%20Assessment%20Panel%20Report%20w_Errata.pdf) entitled “Independent Panel Assessment of an Internal Review of MSHA Enforcement Actions at the Upper Big Branch Mine South.”  The report said, “Although the (Independent Panel) does not take exception to the MSHA IR report’s conclusion that the mine operator, not MSHA, caused the explosion, the IP believes that this characterization of the facts understates the role that MSHA’s enforcement could have had in preventing the explosion.”

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