“BLACK LUNG”

We have heard many people suggest that we need to drill more–oil, gas and coal. Oh, and let’s not bother the companies with regulations. How many times do we need to have fires and spills on oil rigs and refineries, potentially polluting ground water with “fracking” when gas drilling and mine disasters, such as Big Branch, in West Virginia? And, these are not new events.

Exxon Valdez occurred in 1989, off of Valdez, Alaska. Its questionable as to how much of the residual sludge is still polluting shores, water and fisheries. All of the major oil companies have surely had their spills, fires and eruptions–both in the US and overseas. So, if debris from the Fukuyama Diishi Disaster, in Japan last year, can wash-up in Oregon this year, oil and other pollution surely gan “Go-Global”, as well.

But, let’s consider a hidden danger, which many people don’t even think about, because, it only effects the miners and their Families. That is: Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly known as Black Lung. Autopsies performed on 24 of the 29 men killed at the Big Branch Mine show that 17 had CWP, as described in the linked article, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/may2011/lung-m31.shtml.

Health officials who study Black Lung find it frustrating, since it is also effecting younger miners, who have been working since safety conditions supposedly were improved. At the same time, however, they deplore the longer working hours and worsening conditions in the mines, which they believe are contributing to the problem, as noted in the linked article, http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/jan2010/blac-j11.shtml.

As the linked article, http://www.themilitant.com/2001/6546/654605.html, notes, after an autopsy on the author’s husband, after working 19 years in the Mines, it showed that he had six of the seven respiratory ailments that come from breathing coal dust. However, the Death Certificate listed Respiratory Ailments as number 3 on the list of contributors to his death. That could effect her getting Widow’s Benefits. But, who controls the town?  Is there a link?

You might recall seeing Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney speaking in a small town in southeast Ohio, with a number of miners standing behind him. Some miners came forward afterward and said that they were forced to appear–and weren’t being paid for it.

It is important to realize that small towns in Appalachia are extremely dependent on the local mine(s). Oftentimes, every other business–retail stores, car dealerships, restaurants, etc.–derive a good portion of their revenue from the Mines, Miners and their Families. Schools are not of the caliber that you would find in Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, etc. So, many boys put-up with school until they can join their Father and Older Brothers in the mines. Oftentimes, it is all they know. Their only hope: their only future. So, they put up with the job…and the risks involved.

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