April 08, 2010
WASHINGTON -- There is a dispiriting and, yes, heartbreaking sameness about how we respond to mining disasters. The catastrophe at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, W.Va., has taken at least 25 lives. An entire community stands in solidarity with the families of the victims, and hopes that some miners still trapped may yet be rescued. We celebrate the stoic sturdiness of mine workers who pursue their craft with pride, bravery, and full knowledge of the risks it entails. Then we get to the questions about what might have been done to avert the disaster.