Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on the Mine Disaster at Mannington, West Virginia.

November 30, 1968

THE DECISION to seal the mine at Mannington, W. Va., is a final and tragic acknowledgment of human failure.

It will bring further heartache to those families who have suffered through the long watch and who must now live with grief. The hearts and prayers of America go out to them.

But we owe these families more than sympathy. The men and women of our mining communities must have our promise that such shocking tragedies will not be repeated. Every man who goes below the earth on our behalf, every wife and family who waits anxiously for his return, these Americans must have the pledge of all Americans that safety of life and limb will be this Nation's first concern.

Let us delay no longer in filling that pledge, in providing the modern and comprehensive protection that our workers need. This year, I submitted a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety Act to the Congress that offered protection to 75 million American workers. I also submitted a Coal Mine Safety Act to modernize and enlarge protection for our mine workers.

These laws will help, and they must be passed. But no number of laws, no amount of inspection and enforcement can ever eliminate the hazards that confront our mine workers every day. The only certain safeguard against those dangers is the daily concern of employer and worker, the commitment of management and labor to value protection as much as production.

That must become the first order of every day's business for those who own and manage our mines, for those who work them, and for all of us, who benefit from the fruits of their labors and our own good earth.

Note: In his statement the President referred to the death of 78 coal miners which resulted from a methane gas explosion on November 20, 1968, in Mannington, W. Va. On November 29, 1968, mine officials agreed to start sealing the mine to stop additional fires and explosions.
The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on the Mine Disaster at Mannington, West Virginia. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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