Feds begin investigation into mine blast


A 25-year mine safety veteran will lead the federal team investigating last week’s explosion at a West Virginia coal mine that killed 29 miners.

Norman Page, manager of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s District 6 in Pikeville, Ky., will lead the accident investigation team, according to an agency announcement. The 14-member team, scheduled to arrive at the mine today, is made up of employees outside the district office that oversees the Upper Big Branch South Mine.

On Saturday, search teams found the bodies of the final four miners who had yet to be recovered, dashing hopes that any of the miners would be pulled out alive. It’s the worse mining disaster since a 1970 explosion killed 38 miners in Kentucky.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said she and Joe Main, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health, will be meeting with President Obama to discuss what actions the administration can take to prevent further mine disasters. In a Saturday statement, Solis said the explosion could have been prevented.

Although details of the catastrophe are unclear at this time, we do know this: Mine explosions are preventable, miners should never have to sacrifice their lives for their livelihood, and all workers deserve to come home to their families at the end of their shift safe and whole.


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