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West Virginia’s Coal Mines

Billy Pettry, Caden Gray, 5, and Brandon Gray, from left, sit on the steps of the Marsh Fork Worship Center in Eunice, W.Va., near the entrance to Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Coal Mine. (AP)

They go down in the mines every day for the coal that lights and heats a huge chunk of the country.

This week, at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, too many miners – far too many miners – did not come out.

A blast rocked the mine when shifts were changing. The grief that followed has caught the entire nation.

Today, we talk with miners. Coal miners in West Virginia.

We talk about the work they do every day. About mines and mine shafts – the life, the danger. About the mine that turned lethal this week.

This Hour, On Point: miners on mining, and the disaster at Upper Big Branch.

Guests:

Beth Vorhees, producer, host, and senior correspondent for West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

J. Davitt McAteer, former head of the Mine Health and Safety Administration under President Clinton and Vice President for Sponsored Programs at Wheeling-Jesuit University.

Jeffrey Harris, 54-year-old, sixth-generation miner. He works in the Harris No. 1 mine in Farley, West Virginia. He’s worked in a mine for 30 years.

Adam Vance, 27-year-old, third-generation miner. He runs a shuttle car at Pinnacle Mine in Pineville, West Virginia, on the graveyard shift.

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