From a Rep. Nick Rahall Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) Friday joined the call of Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee, led by Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), for the U.S. Department of Justice to vigorously investigate and pursue prosecution of individuals whose actions led to the April 2010 deaths of 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine in Montcoal, Raleigh County.

“From the very day of the disaster at UBB, I have stood with the families of the 29 miners who perished and called for answers and accountability. We now know, beyond any doubt, what caused that explosion, but we have yet to see the justice that those men and their families deserve,” said Rahall. “I appreciate the leadership shown by Congressman Miller and other Members of the Education and Workforce Committee who are, again, standing up for those families and pressing for prosecution of those who so callously risked the lives of the UBB miners.”

Miller, along with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and 14 other Members of the Education and Workforce Committee on Friday transmitted a letter to the Justice Department supporting the Department’s ongoing efforts to fully examine and prosecute any individuals who acted criminally in relation to the UBB mine disaster.  The letter noted the findings of the final investigation by MSHA, which concluded that the mine exploded because Massey Energy officials were cutting corners and skirting the law on multiple fronts.

“This tragedy was completely preventable had the managers and senior executives responsible for this mine complied with the requirements of the Mine Act and its regulations.  They did not,” the lawmakers wrote to U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder, Jr. “Individuals, alone or in concert, established these deadly practices and procedures. Individuals, alone or in concert, implemented and enforced these deadly practices and procedures. Though these individuals stood at the head of this disaster, they have, thus far, escaped justice.”

 “The lives of those affected will never be made whole, but you can continue investigating to ensure that those who acted criminally are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” the letter concluded.

From conducting a hearing in Raleigh County shortly after the mine exploded, to seeking funding for the Labor Department to conduct a thorough investigation, to crafting Federal legislation to strengthen mine safety laws, Rahall has worked closely with Miller and the Education and Workforce Committee to bring the full force of the Federal government’s resources to bear to learn the truth about the circumstances of the UBB tragedy and to prevent such a disaster from occurring again.

Just this week, Rahall again joined Miller and Woolsey in calling on the House of Representatives to take up and pass their mine safety bill, which contains provisions specifically aimed at addressing the safety lapses identified through the investigation into Massey’s UBB mine.

“This was the worst coal mining disaster in our country in more than forty years.  It is a huge tragedy, but it will be made even more tragic if individuals who knowingly enabled the UBB mine to devolve into a death trap are allowed to walk away from their misdeeds without punishment,” said Rahall.