Remembering the Devastation of Monongah, UBB, and a Tornado So History Doesn't Repeat


Let’s look back at the Upper Big Branch Disaster to see what does it take to change coal culture?

Remembering the worst coal mining disaster in history so history does not repeat.

Wheeling Jesuit University hopes you’ll join them to “Celebrate Appalachia”.

Local maple syrup could be threatened by climate change.

National Chemical Storage Standards?:  It’s been almost three months since a chemical leak into the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia contaminated drinking water for three-hundred thousand customers. Since then, the state passed a new law that requires, among other actions, better monitoring of above ground storage tanks. Now federal, lawmakers are looking into the need for national regulations.

Changing Coal Culture?:  It’s been four years since an explosion ripped through an underground coal mine in southern West Virginia, killing 29 men and mangling everything in its path. Four investigations into the Upper Big Branch Disaster pointed to poor conditions in the mine and a culture that put production above safety. So what does it take to change an entire culture?

Remembering Monongah: Sadly, Upper Big Branch was just one of hundreds of explosions and coal mine disasters that have oc curred throughout American history.  All told, 104,819 Americans (and counting) have died in coal mine accidents since 1900, and in the early part of the century, thousands of American miners died on the job every year.  The deadliest accident of them all happened in Monongah, West Virginia, in 1907, and as we remember Upper Big Branch today, we bring you a radio adaptation of a film shot by Appalshop’s Herb E. Smith at a ceremony remembering Monongah at its 100th anniversary in 2007.  WMMT’s Parker Hobson has this story.

“Day of the Killer Tornadoes”: The first days of April mean yet another tragic day for ror residents of West Virginia, and also Kentucky and Ohio. April 3rd, 1974 –  148 tornadoes swept through the South and Midwest, leaving a path of destruction that spanned 26-hundred miles. More than 300 people were killed, 31 of them in Brandenburg, Kentucky. The National Civil Defense Preparedness Agency produced a television documentary about the disaster. It was narrated by Fred Collins and includes actual sounds from that day.

No Tax Break, No Wind Plant: Wind power has been booming in the last ten years, thanks to climate conscious subsidies for clean energy. But Congress recently cut off one key tax break for wind. In January, a company that makes windmill blades announced plans to shut down a plan in Pennsylvania.  As part of The Allegheny Front’s Climate Chronicles, Reid Frazier looks at how Washington’s stance on clean energy is impacting Pennsylvania’s wind belt.

Maple Lovers, Hold onto Your Syrup: of real local maple syrup on your pancakes, you’re lucky to live in a golden age. That’s because eventually, rising temperatures could tap out the Northeastern maple industry. Federal climate models have predicted the region will lose most of its maples by next century. Right now, producers don’t seem worried: maple syrup prices are high, and with technology, the sap is flowing just fine. The Allegheny Front‘s Julie Grant heads into the sugarbush.

“Celebrate Appalachia”: A conference to “Celebrate Appalachia” kicked off this week at Wheeling Jesuit University  in Northern West Virginia. It’s a month-long celebration of all-things Appalachia. Glynis Board of West Virginia Public Radio has more about the series of lectures and events.