There are a number of causes for mine disasters, but according to Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, not all mine disasters (like the Upper Big Branch explosion in West Virginia) are preventable.

From the Rural Blog:

“I’m a realist. The politicians will tell you we’re going to do something so this never happens again; you won’t hear me say that,” Blankenship told theNational Press Club. “I believe that the physics of natural law and God trump whatever man tries to do. Whether you get earthquakes underground, whether you get broken floors, whether you get gas inundations, whether you get roof falls, oftentimes they are unavoidable just as other accidents are in society.”

Inspections often reveal that the causes of mine disasters (lax oversight, faulty equipment, etc.) are often caused by humans and preventable. But if Blankenship is saying a certain amount of disasters cannot be avoided, and large, deadly explosions are in some way the norm, then what does that say about the future of mining and the necessity for safety standards and inspections?