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Good News from West Virginia

Miner statue in West Virginia
Miner statue in West Virginia. Photo: AFSC / AFSC

Dear Friend,

AFSC is excited about our role and Tuesday’s announcement of the record federal settlement in the wake of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, which killed 29 West Virginia coal miners in April 2010.

Read more about AFSC's response to the settlement.

Beth Spence, of AFSC’s West Virginia Economic Justice Project, served on the independent investigative team appointed by former Gov. Joe Manchin. Beth was the lead writer of the team’s report released last May. That report has been used as evidence in subsequent legal proceedings and investigations.  

The settlement announced on December 6, requires Alpha Natural Resources, the company which bought Massey Energy, to pay $210 million in fines, restitution, and other costs including:

  • $80 million on upgrading mine safety practices
  • $45 million to set up a foundation devoted to developing better mining safety practices

Federal prosecutors also said the door is open to further criminal prosecutions of former Massey officials and board members. Family members of the victims were relieved to hear prosecutions may still happen.

Beth continues to work on mine safety issues for AFSC and is currently partnering with David McAteer and Wheeling Jesuit University to develop a handbook outlining steps and resources miners should take in the event of a disaster.

AFSC believes that a lasting peace requires economic justice for all people. For nearly 90 years AFSC has worked with communities in West Virginia, to help their move forward in their journey toward a lasting peace. 

See AFSC's coverage of the report and background leading up to the settlement.

In Peace, Rick Wilson
American Friends Service Committee

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