Massey Energy: The U-North of Coal

Yes! Here we are, all together. Is everyone listening? ‘Cause this is the moment you’ve been waiting for, a very special piece of paper, so let’s have a big, paranoid, malignant round of applause… for United Northfield Culcitate Internal Research Memorandum #229!
Arthur Edens

Remember the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster?

Donald Blankenship, the coal baron who tried to buy himself a judicial appointment to duck liability judgments, and who was the CEO of Massey Energy at the time the Upper Big Branch mine collapsed, is on trial.

In what can only be called a friendly twist of fate, Blankenship may be convicted on the strength of his own words, preserved in self-made recordings of every conversation he had.

That sound you hear is the rotting corpse of Richard Nixon shaking what’s left of his head.

In one conversation, Mr. Blankenship complains that Massey’s top safety official is too concerned with “the social aspects” of her job: “You’ve got to have someone who actually understands that this game is about money.” In another, he frets over a confidential internal safety memo — central to the prosecution’s case — that warned, among other things, of poor ventilation at mines and said Massey was “plainly cheating” in sampling coal dust, a health hazard and a fire accelerant.He worries how things will look if Massey is sued. “If that was a fatal today, or if we had one,” Mr. Blankenship says, an apparent reference to an accident, “it’d be a terrible document to be in discovery.”

Or, as the dearly departed Attorney Edens would say: “You don’t need me to tell you what that means. Goodbye!”

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