If you know me and follow this blog, you know I have a strong dislike for coal mining, mining technology, and the myth of “clean coal” that is shoved down our throats regularly. The saddest news today comes yet again from West Virginia where 25 mine workers lost their lives in an explosion in an underground mine funded by the prolific WV company Massey. This company has a history of violations for lack of proper ventilation of methane gas in 1000 foot deep mines. Since 1998 there have been three deaths linked with this mining company. At what price are we going to stay in the dark coal ages? How many people should we sacrifice…how much land? I do understand that people have to make a living, and may have no other choice but to work in mines for income. My grandfather did this for many, many years, and suffered terribly at the end of his life with black lung, a result of inhaling coal dust all those years. Though mining is much safer now than it was back then, I’d truly like to believe this, I still wonder what price we will be paying in other ways for our lack of finding better energy solutions.
Two weeks ago I posted a story about Maria Gunnoe, a woman fighting the very same Massey company for their regular destruction of the Appalachia Mountains near and around her home. I’m sure she is on her toes with this event, drawing more attention to what is adding up to be one of the worst mining accidents in many years. Four men are still unaccounted for. There is a slim hope they have survived, in an air-tight chamber somewhere deep in belly of this earth.
A few years ago, with my daughter’s class, we visited a local mine which is now a huge anthracite museum. This was around the time China had that devastating accident a few years back that killed 350 miners. Today, China has to deal with another dark ages accident, with 150 or so workers missing in another mine collapse from flooding. In any case, this field trip broke this miner’s granddaughter’s heart. To go down so deep into the darkness, to see the wax figures of these men working, to see the donkeys that pulled the carts of coal who never say daylight, ever, but lived their entire animal lives underground, and to see the young boys who held the door controls, or sorted the coal…truly a sad way to make a living all those years ago. I know times have changed….it still haunts me.
I hope the families of these poor hard-working men find peace…Our Easter season prayers go out to them all…and I hope Massey and any other coal company will re-evaluate their regulations and make good changes for all….and for this planet.
But mostly, I hope we find better solutions for energy…this is not the answer…coal is never “clean”….and today it is truly deadly.