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On Good Morning America today, Rand Paul, Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Kentucky, described the deaths of two coal miners crushed in a roof collapse on April 29 at the non-union Dotiki Mine in Eastern Kentucky - Justin Travis, 27, and Michael Carter, 28.

Paul said "We had a mining accident that was very tragic. ... Then we come in and it's always someone's fault. Maybe sometimes accidents happen."

"Accidents happen?" That's his answer? Rand Paul's comment was simply bizarre. Obviously he hasn't read the published reports about the mine disaster in his own state.

According to USA Today, "Dotiki received 840 citations since January 2009, with 323 for 'significant and substantial' violations. [Dotiki Mine operator] Webster Coal has paid just more than half the citations, or about $140,000, and is contesting 250 of the fines, which are worth $400,000."

Furthermore, according to USA Today, "MSHA cited the Dotiki Mine 17 times since January 2009 for failing to adequately secure roofs and walls against falling rock and coal, agency records show. The fines total $15,700, and $4,500 has been paid."

When mine operators follow the law and mine workers are allowed to unionize, mine deaths are preventable. Workers who can exercise their right to organize are able to voice concerns about a mine's hazards through their safety committee - without fearing for their jobs.

For Rand Paul to be apparently ignorant of a Kentucky mine operator's violations while calling miners' preventable deaths "accidental" is shameful.

 

Follow Kimberly Freeman Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/araw