“And the irony is that black lung now is shown to be getting worse among young miners,” the senator added. “This is a new trend, but it's-- it's active right now. It's shown to be getting worse. And, you know, there's just-- there's just nothing but sadness and-- and cruelty and callowness associated with this whole thing on the part of operators. Not the miners.”
After the mine disaster at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 coal workers, autopsies performed on the victims found that 17 of them had evidence of black lung disease.
Blankenship said he believes the prevalence of the disease was likely the result of a decision by government regulators to prevent mine operators from using scrubbers – an air filtration system intended to rid the underground air of coal dust.