mine in Springhill, Nova Sotia, alone, was responsible for the deaths of 287 miners in three separate disasters. The Westray Mine took 26 miners' lives and resulted in criminal charges (eventually stayed).Canada, too, has had its share of deadly coal mine tragedies. The
Each of these accidents has resulted in pledges to "get to the bottom of things;" to "leave no stone unturned;" to enact legislation and enforce it; to protect miners who resist unsafe conditions; to put the safety of miners first.
At the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, yesterday's explosion is generating the same tired old rhetoric that is trotted out after every coal mine disaster.
It's time to call foul and tell everyone involved to put up or shut up.
But will it ever end?
Governments enact legislation, but seemingly legislation with no teeth. Companies pay the fines and carry on. The mining lobby spends millions to persuade legislators not to restrict the industry too severely.
I used to wonder, like the words in the song, "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?" Now I'm much more cynical. They already know and they don't care. Profit is paramount.
My heart goes out to the families and friends of the miners of the Upper Big Branch Mine.
I hope that finally and forever the explosions that can be prevented will be prevented. But I'm not holding my breath.