WASHINGTON — Senators have decided to subpoena Crandall Canyon Mine co-owner Bob Murray to compel him to testify on the accident that resulted in the deaths of nine miners.
Murray was invited to testify before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing held Sept. 5, but he did not appear. His company, Murray Energy, said he was still dealing with the immediate aftermath of the rescue effort.
The Aug. 6 mine collapse trapped six miners, and their bodies were never recovered. Three rescuers died trying to reach them.
The subcommittee at the September hearing listened to Mine Safety and Health Administration head Richard Stickler; J. Davitt McAteer, a former MSHA head who is now a vice president at Wheeling Jesuit University; and Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America, among other experts. But the subcommittee still has not heard from Murray.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services voted earlier this month to authorize a subpoena for Murray. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the subcommittee's top Republican, said the subcommittee needs to "compel him" to appear.
"We need to have his testimony as to what happened in the mine resulting in so many deaths, and we need to take a look at the enforcement by the Mine Safety and Health Administration and to determine whether additional legislation is necessary," Specter said in an electronic newsletter to his constituents.
"We're going to get to the bottom of what went on there, but he is an indispensable witness, and, candidly, he really flouted the responsibility and authority of the United States Senate to have his testimony to find out what happened so we could do our utmost to prevent future occurrences," Specter said.
A spokeswoman for Murray Energy said in a statement Wednesday that the company had not yet received a subpoena.
"We are not aware of any subpoena having been issued," the statement said. "We remain committed to a fair inquiry and continue to cooperate with the appropriate authorities."