Early last week we were shocked and saddened at the tragic loss of at least
25 men in a West Virginia mine. We subsequently learned that the mine
was cited more than 50 times in the last month alone for uncorrected safety
violations. 12 citations were for problems with ventilation and preventing
methane gas buildup. Mining has always been dangerous and some accidents
may be unavoidable. But if this tragedy was the result of a corporate
refusal to correct known dangers, this is no accident and someone needs
to be held accountable.
Last week we also learned Toyota illegally withheld information about
unintended sudden acceleration dangers from federal investigators. Toyota
warned European distributors about sudden acceleration due to sticking
pedals long before it told U.S. regulators. The U.S. auto safety agency,
NHTSA, fined Toyota a record $16.4 million.
We don’t yet know the extent of this cover-up. Transportation Secretary
LaHood said he wouldn’t be surprised if review of Toyota documents
uncovered other safety lapses. “This is the first thing that we
have found,” he said. “It may not be the last thing.”
Indeed, New York Congressman Towns reported earlier this year on Toyota
documents that seem to suggest a cover-up of acceleration problems and
solutions as far back as 2005. Just as with the mining disaster, if safety
dangers and their solutions have been covered up or ignored resulting
in death or injury to members of thousands of American families, we need
to know it, and someone needs to be held accountable.