Thursday, July 24, 2008

Corporate Genocide Watch: Report #1

After chronicling the manner in which Bayer Corp. murdered in cold blood thousands of people by poisoning the population with a drug that it knew had deadly consequences, I think it best to cover the other areas of genocide committed by our major citizens--yes, citizens, because corporations are considered as such under contractual law in this country.

Meet Genwal Resources, the operators of the Utah mine last year that murdered six miners. It was murder because the mine operators flagrantly violated safety regulations, causing the collapse of the said mine, which led directly the deaths of the miners and the ones who tried to rescue them. Yet one more item you will never see covered in any of Ron Paul's speeches about the beauties of free enterprise.

Feds blame mine operator for fatal collapse

(CNN) -- The U.S. government Thursday announced its highest penalty for coal mine safety violations, $1.85 million, for a collapse that killed six miners in Utah last year.

Insufficient pillar support and activity in areas that should not have been mined caused the August Crandall Canyon mine collapse, federal investigators found.

The government fined the mine operator, Genwal Resources, $1.34 million "for violations that directly contributed to the deaths of six miners last year," plus nearly $300,000 for other violations.

The government also levied a $220,000 fine against a mining consultant, Agapito Associates, "for faulty analysis of the mine's design."

The mine's owner had insisted that earth movement detected at the time of the collapse had caused the disaster. But investigators found instead that the collapse caused the earth movement.

"It was not -- and I repeat, it was not -- a natural occurring earthquake," said the government's top mine safety official, Richard E. Stickler.

Stickler, the acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, said, "pillars failed under excessive load and ejected coal very violently."

Stickler also said the mine's operator "was taking more coal than allowed from the barrier pillars and the floor."

"This dangerously weakened the strength of the roof support," Stickler said.

In addition to the six miners killed in the initial cave-in August 6 in northwest Emery County, three would-be rescuers died 10 days later in a subsequent collapse. The bodies of the six miners killed in the initial collapse were never recovered.

Richard Gates, the lead investigator for the government, said the pillars in the mine "simply were not large enough to support the load."

That resulted in a "catastrophic failure of pillars over a broad area," as large as half a mile, he said.

University of Utah scientists said in June that the collapse was not the result of an earthquake.

"As seismologists, we're as certain as we can be that the seismic event registered as a magnitude-3.9 shock was due to the collapse of the mine and not a naturally occurring earthquake," said Walter Arabasz, director of the university's Utah Seismograph Stations, in a written statement.

Earlier this year, a Labor Department report criticized Mine Safety and Health Administration officials for approving plans for a risky mining technique, known as retreat mining, that was in use before the collapse. In the process, miners remove pillars of coal that support the roof of a chamber one by one, allowing the roof to collapse behind them.

Mine owner Bob Murray repeatedly denied in the days after the disaster that his company practiced retreat mining at Crandall Canyon. He later admitted that the practice had been used at the mine but said it was not being done at the time of the disaster.

Six murdered miners in a company-induced mine collapse, three more from the rescue attempt, and the punishment for the killers? $1.86 million in fines, from a subsidiary whose parent company totals $468 million in annual sales. Such is the difference between Robert E. Murray (CEO of Murray Energy, the owners of Genwal) and Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer was not smart enough to kill his victims while in the act of commerce.

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