NPR investigates Massey Energy mines, finds high injury rates at several
April 15, 2010 ·
National Public Radio’s new investigative team recently looked into safety records on Massey Energy mines and found that ten have injury rates higher than the national rate.
After the Upper Big Branch mine accident, the investigative
team began looking at federal safety reports on multiple Massey mines.
Robert Benincasa is a producer for computer-assisted
reporting at NPR.
“It’s not easy to get a comprehensive look at a mining
company from the way that the Mine Safety and Health Administration puts its
records on the Web site,” Benincasa said. “You can get the records of one mine
at a time but then to bring them all together is more difficult.”
From the federal records, Benincasa collected information on
last year's injury rates at Massey’s 35 active underground coal mines.
Injury rates are determined by dividing the number injuries at a mine by the of hours
worked at the mine.
It’s a measure of how frequently injuries occur.
According to the NPR news investigation, last year’s reports
show that ten Massey owned mines had injury rates above the national rate and four of those mines had injury rates more than double
the national rate. The national rate is 4.03 injuries per 200,000 hours worked.
“We published numbers on all 35 mines, so the public could
see which ones had issues and which ones were doing better,” said Benincasa.
Benincasa says as the story of the Upper Big Branch mine
accident has developed, questions have been raised about mine safety in general.
He says the end of NPR’s investigative story hints at whether the system that
regulates coal mine safety provides enough incentive for operators to comply
with the law.
“Massey itself says the litigation from the accidents won’t
really hurt them because they’re insured,” Benincasa said. “If you can have
these accidents and the company doesn’t suffer and the shareholders don’t
suffer, where is the incentive?”
Click here to listen to and read the NPR story by Howard Berkes and Robert Benincasa.