This is a terrible tragedy. And it will happen again. And again.
And no one will be held accountable. We read in story after story, the same line - "Massey Energy ... ranks among the industry's most profitable. It also has a spotty safety record."
That safety record earned it a whopping $382,000 in fines last year. Gee I wonder if that even shows up on the financials of a company that takes in $2.5 billion in revenue per year. Ahem, $2,500,000,000 > $382,000. Shit. The CEO could have paid that fine with the change that fell out of this pocket on payday ($11 million for Mr. Blankenship last year).
No one will be held accountable. Nothing will change. Oh, perhaps the company will be fined again, even sued, but I bet if we watch the stock price... nothing will change.
My thoughts are to massively increase fines for safety violations and to consider Sarbanes-Oxley type criminal penalties for management in cases where an accident is linked to safety violations. Because that's the only thing that's going to make Mr. Blankenship, et al, give a damn. Further, the annual report to shareholders should be required to have a description of the independent safety inspections performed (including context so the reader can understand the extent to which company operations were examined), any findings, and any fines. I think this should be on page 2 (we'll let them keep the CEO's letter on page 1).