Do Upper Big Branch Miners’ Families Want Names Kept Secret?

This was raised with me, so a few words on it.

At this point, despite numerous polite requests, there is still no official list of fatalities from Massey, MSHA, or state officials.

If this delay is at the specific request of the miners’ families, it would be a unusual request at this stage in my experience. But surely the authorities have only to say so?

Certainly, I would respect a family’s request for privacy in the immediate aftermath of such a loss. But no one has been willing to say this on record who knows about the cause of the delay.

I contacted Massey again this morning, and got this statement: “The company has not released the names of the miners out of respect for the families involved.” Which implies, perhaps, but stops short of actually saying in so many words that the families requested withholding.

I also don’t understand why the company would withhold the names from MSHA, as a spokewoman for MSHA indicated yesterday. Massey’s statement on the spokewoman’s comment was: “We don’t understand how that can be.”

Meanwhile, the names of most — perhaps all — the victims are, in fact, widely known and being circulated on an unofficial basis in Montcoal and elsewhere. I have not made a complrehensive search of the Web, but for instance, WTRF-TV has reported 22 names, which the TV stations states were “confirmed through the State Medical Examiner and family members.” (My emphasis.)

Annoyance to families is, in my experience, more likely to result from outsiders — such as TV reporters — attempting to establish the facts in the absence of official information. An official ID at this point would simply close the chapter. I, for one, as a reporter for Mine Safety and Health News would prefer to have official information and will use unofficial sources only if I must.

Meanwhile, Governor Manchin is starting a news conference, so we’ll see what that brings.

In other news, MSHA has emailed registrants to cancel an April 27 stakeholder meeting in Triadelphia, W.VA. that was scheduled (before the accident) to discuss mine emergency response.

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One Response to “Do Upper Big Branch Miners’ Families Want Names Kept Secret?”

  1. […] My friends Ellen Smith and Kathy Snyder at Mine Safety and Health News have publicly questioned the fact that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration has not yet made public a complete list of the miners’ names — something that generally comes out pretty quickly in the form of a standard “preliminary report.” See Ellen’s Huffington Post commentary here and Kathy’s Mine Safety Watch blog here. […]

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