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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OPA News Release: [07/01/2010]
Contact Name: Jesse Lawder
Phone Number: (202) 693-4659
Release Number: 10-0942-NAT

Statement from US Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on mining death at Pocahontas Mine in West Virginia

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement on the death of an electrician at the Pocahontas Mine in West Virginia:

"I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the mine worker in West Virginia who lost his life today. In 2010, no worker should lose his or her life simply because they showed up for work. We know that accidents are preventable when proper safety procedures are followed, and when mine operators make a serious commitment to providing for the safety and health of their workers.

"The Pocahontas Mine is another in an ever growing list of mines operated by Massey Energy with poor safety records. In the last ten years, 54 miners have died while working at Massey mines. In fact, 31 of the 40 coal mine fatalities that have occurred in 2010 have occurred at Massey mines. We have issued citations, closure orders, stop orders, and fines to get Massey to take its safety responsibility seriously. Earlier today, the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of West Virginia announced four Massey supervisors will be charged criminally stemming from a MSHA and FBI investigation into the deaths of two miners at a Massey mine in 2006. But yet again, today we mourn the tragic loss of another miner whose safety was entrusted to Massey Energy.

"Earlier today, new mine safety legislation was introduced in Congress that will give MSHA additional authority to deal with mine companies like Massey that disregard their legal obligation to provide for the safety and health of their workers. This tragedy reminds us why these reforms are needed.

"We are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that tragedies like this never happen again. But ultimately, the responsibility for miner safety rests with the mine companies that own and operate the coal mines. It's well past time that Massey accept their responsibility for providing for the safety of their workers."