Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement in response to the agreement announced today among the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia, the U.S. Department of Justice, Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and Alpha Appalachia Holdings Inc., formerly known as Massey Energy Co., in the wake of the April 2010 tragedy at the Upper Big Branch Mine:
"I'm encouraged that Alpha is making investments in mine safety and research in response to the Upper Big Branch tragedy. They are sorely needed. Alpha has a duty to change a troubling management culture at UBB that placed profits over people. New equipment and new facilities that value the safety of every miner are important first steps.
"No amount of restitution or penalties can bring back the 29 miners who lost their lives at UBB, but it's important that Alpha do right by the families whose lives were forever changed by this preventable tragedy.
"While this agreement covers corporate prosecution, my department will continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice to address any individual criminal wrongdoing uncovered by ongoing federal investigations. Anyone determined to have violated a criminal statute in connection with Upper Big Branch should be brought to justice."