Twenty five miners killed in what is being described as the "worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades." Performance Coal Co, operating in Montcoal, W.V. is a subsidiary of Massey Energy, the nation's largest mining corporation and its worst environmental offender. Massey Energy has continuously been cited for major safety violations at their mine sites.
ABC News reported:
The nation's sixth biggest mining company by production, Massey Energy took in $24 million in net income in the fourth quarter of 2009. The company paid what was then the largest financial settlement in the history of the coal industry for the 2006 fire at the Aracoma mine, also in West Virginia. The fire trapped 12 miners. Two suffocated as they looked for a way to escape. Aracoma later admitted in a plea agreement that two permanent ventilation controls had been removed in 2005 and not replaced, according to published reports.
Massey CEO, Don Blankenship, has, over many years, been the subject of articles and inquiries regarding his business practices including political support of those in position to do his company the most good. Massey Energy has been accused and convicted of ongoing safety rules violations usually receiving what is known in the industry as a "soft fine". For example, a recent case involved a judge who overturned a $50,000,000.00 judgment against the company on appeal. This judge had long ties with and received thousands of dollars in campaign finance support from Blankenship.
Rescue efforts were suspended this morning because high levels of methane gas made the operation unsafe, according to the NY Times.
You can help by donating to the Salvation Army or Red Cross both of whom are on the scene supplying aid.