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Studio B Focuses On The 3 Hour Gap - Maybe Mining Health & Safety Violations Should Be Emphasized?

Reported by Donna - January 4, 2006

Most of Studio B, with a returning Shepard Smith, focused on the press conference of the President of International Coal Group, Ben Hatfield. The reporters are right in speaking about the 3 hour gap where the families went from jubilation of their loved one's survival to the sad truth 3 hours later when they found out they had, indeed perished at the Sago coal mine.

While this is an important story and these families certainly didn't need to suffer needlessly for three hours when their hearts were full of hope, but maybe we should look at the bigger picture of the tragedy. Why did this happen in the first place? Could it have been prevented?

While reading the Washington Post, I came across the following:

According to Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News, the Sago coal mine, where the accident occurred, had an accident rate in 2004 that was three times higher than the national average. That record has since worsened: Last year, the mine's operators received 205 orders and citations for health and safety violations, 96 of which carried a "significant and substantial" risk of death or injury. In 2005 the mine was forced to halt operations 16 times after failing to comply with safety rules. Eight of those citations, which were among the most serious a mine can receive, occurred in the final quarter of the year.

Comment: Perhaps in these cavalier times of the Bush Administration where corporations and tax cuts for the rich come first, we should start demanding answers again. Should we have to have a worker upheaval and make the unions stronger? How can we protect the American worker?

Was this coal mine still up and running without fixing these health and safety violations? These are some of the questions I would like asked and answered. Yes, it's a shame that the families thought for 3 hours that their loved ones survived, but maybe if the government had forced the company to come up to snuff on their health and safety violations, we wouldn't have to ask this question at all.

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