Upper Big Branch, five years on

As we all celebrated Easter Sunday yesterday, 29 families observed the fifth anniversary of the death of their loved ones in one of the biggest mine disasters to happen on U.S. soil in decades. The Upper Big Branch Mine explosion happened April 5, 2010. It was the day after Easter that year.

In the days and weeks that followed, we learned that mine owner Massey Energy had been cited repeatedly for safety violations at the mine, and that these citations had resulted in absolutely no change in any operating procedure that almost surely could have averted the tragedy.

Coal boss Don Blankenship — who at the time was a powerful, larger-than-life figure who dominated West Virginia business and culture like a titan — is currently awaiting trial, set to begin April 20. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to violate safety standards, falsifying coal dust samples and defrauding federal financial regulators.

I’ve blogged before about Blankenship and the Upper Big Branch disaster, here. Let’s pray for the families of the 29 miners who died five years ago.

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