Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

December 6th, 2011

Contact: Sean Sarah  202 548-4589


Sierra Club Statement on the Recent Developments Regarding the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster

Today, the US Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia and Alpha Natural Resources announced a settlement over the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. In response, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Director Mary Anne Hitt issued the following statement: 

"Last April, a devastating and avoidable tragedy took the lives of twenty-nine miners in southern West Virginia. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the loved ones of those lost. It is easy for the nation to forget the sacrifices coal miners make every day. Sadly, the miners at Upper Big Branch paid the ultimate cost for Massey Energy’s* startling negligence. We must never forget the price they paid, nor can we allow the failures that cost their lives to go unanswered.  

“Today marks another step in the long road to justice for the families who lost loved ones at Upper Big Branch. The US Attorney’s settlement with Alpha Natural Resources leaves the door open for criminal prosecution of those responsible for the deaths of 29 miners. We call on the Attorney’s office to vigorously investigate and relentlessly prosecute any former or current Massey executives or employees at fault in this tragedy.

"Later today the Mine Safety and Health Administration will issue its report on the Upper Big Branch disaster. It is critical that this investigation not only highlight the total disregard Massey had for the lives of its workers, but also that it pave the way for stronger safeguards that protect the lives of miners and prevent another tragedy like this one from happening again. The Sierra Club hopes MSHA, Governor Tomblin and Senators Rockefeller and Manchin will work quickly and persistently to ensure the safety of miners is placed above corporate profit."



*Massey Energy was purchased by Alpha Natural Resources in July 2011