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RAW Story: Groups call for arrest of West Virginia mine CEO

April 12, 2010- A coalition of NGOs who say they are fighting against the influence of the US Chamber of Commerce has called for the arrest of Don Blankenship, the CEO responsible for the West Virginia mine where 29 workers lost their lives last week.

In a press release on Monday, said Blankenship was "as criminally culpable as any mass murderer" for the disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, because he had systematically worked to avoid safety regulations.

“This was not an accident, but rather the result of deliberate and intentional decisions and actions of Don Blankenship, a director of the United States Chamber of Commerce," said Kevin Zeese, a founder of the liberal-oriented Velvet Revolution, which runs the site.

"Blankenship, with the lobbying arm of the Chamber to back him up, has thumbed his nose at the Mine Safety and Health Administration, ignoring or appealing every violation, including the scores that resulted in coal mine evacuations and the hundreds of other serious violations," Zeese said in a statement.

Zeese added, "As the Washington Post pointed out in a Saturday editorial, these 29 deaths would not have occurred absent this intentional conduct of Blankenship. He is just as criminally culpable as any mass murderer."

On Friday, the New York Times reported that the mining industry has been able to skirt around an enhanced safety law from 2006 by filing multiple appeals against safety violation citations.



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