April 4th was the 5th anniversary of the Upper Big Branch disaster, when 29 coal miners were killed in a methane explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine at Montcoal, near Whitesville, WV. J. Davitt McAteer, who headed the Mine Safety & Health Administration during the Clinton years, led the Governor’s Independent Investigation into the disaster. On this anniversary McAteer published an op-ed in the Charleston Gazette warning that not enough has changed in American coal mines to keep another disaster like Upper Big Branch from happening again. In fact, in some places like West Virginia mine safety laws are being gutted. He spoke to WMMT by telephone. (You can read his op-ed here, or his team’s full report on the disaster here).
May 5, 2015