Friday, June 11, 2010

We should have listened to disgruntled ex-employee before explosions at Massey mine in West Virginia

Usually it's only the disgruntled ex-employees who will tell the truth about an institution. Those who are still employed are usually afraid to talk, or they have convinced themselves that it is right to protect wrongdoers.

Ex-Massey Miner: Safety Gripes Led To Firing

by Howard Berkes
June 7, 2010

A former Massey Energy coal miner has filed a federal whistle-blower complaint, claiming he was fired after complaining about unsafe conditions at two Massey mines in West Virginia, NPR News has learned. One of the coal mines is Upper Big Branch, where an explosion killed 29 workers April 5.

Ricky Lee Campbell's complaint says he repeatedly told his supervisors about failing brakes on the coal shuttle cars he drove at the Slip Ridge Cedar Grove mine.

The 24-year-old from Beckley, W.Va., also spoke to a newspaper about unsafe conditions at Upper Big Branch, where he worked until shortly before the accident. And he provided information in the federal investigation of the blast.

Campbell spoke to the newspaper on April 7. A week later, he was given a five-day suspension "subject to discharge" and then fired April 23. He then filed the whistle-blower complaint with the Labor Department, contending that his persistent safety concerns, his media interview and his role in the federal probe prompted his termination...

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