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(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The War On Coal Miners: How Companies Hide The Threat Of Black Lung From Watchdogs And Workers

Today's post was shared by Steven Greenhouse and comes from www.huffingtonpost.com

Whistleblower Justin Greenwell told regulators that his company, Armstrong Coal, was misreporting the dust levels in his mine, potentially putting miners in danger of black lung disease. (Photo: Dave Jamieson)

The dust was so thick that Justin Greenwell could barely see what was in front of him.

A 29-year-old miner, Greenwell had grown accustomed to working in the coal dust below ground in the Parkway Mine in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky. Yet the prevalence of the dust in the air bothered Greenwell more and more. He'd labored for seven years in the mines, and already he was experiencing shortness of breath when he worked on his farm on the weekends.

Prolonged exposure to coal dust leads to coal worker's pneumoconiosis, known colloquially as black lung. It's a miserable disease that forces miners to live out their last days coughing and gasping for air. To protect employees, mine operators are required by law to keep their coal dust levels in check. While inspectors do some of the monitoring, the operators themselves also collect samples and provide them to federal regulators to prove they're in compliance.

According to Greenwell, there was a simple reason the Parkway Mine managed to avoid fines despite all the dust: Its operator, Armstrong Coal, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Armstrong Energy, was submitting misleading samples to regulators.

"It's been going on since I started there," Greenwell alleged in an interview. "All these guys in management, they know...

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