North / South America
For 29 dead miners, a monument but no new safety measures
Aug, 14 2012
(West Virginia) -- The mood was as heavy as the humidity during a July 27 commemoration in Whitesville, W.Va., a creaky little coal town nestled in a tight valley by the narrow Coal River and a railroad spur. Hundreds of people, including miners in fluorescent-striped work garb and a young girl in a lacy white dress bearing a bouquet of plastic green flowers, were on hand for the unveiling of a granite memorial to 29 miners who died April 5, 2010 , in a massive explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine a few miles down Route 3.
For more than two years, Whitesville has been a sorrowful epicenter for the aftermath of the blast, blamed by three sets of investigators on now-defunct Massey Energy, one of the most notorious mine-safety violators in recent history. The town was where families assembled on that horrible spring night to learn the fates of loved ones. At the ceremony, Rob Dinsmore, the memorial’s designer, sounded a hopeful note: “This is not a tombstone, but an opportunity.”
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