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FBI investigating use of explosive device at Warrior Met Coal pipelines

The attack comes days before the one-year anniversary of the United Mine Workers of America began their strike against the company.

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A labor dispute between Alabama Miners and Warrior Met Coal, Inc. appears to have taken an explosive turn as Warrior Met Coal reports the bombing of natural gas pipelines owned by the company.

The Alabama Mining Association (AMA) on Thursday announced that the company is offering $25,000 to any individual who provides information which directly leads to an arrest and conviction of the anyone responsible for the attack, which occurred in the early morning hours of Thursday, March 24 along Hannah Creek Road in eastern Tuscaloosa County.

“Warrior Met Coal and its subsidiaries have always focused on the safety of our employees and the communities in which we live and operate,” said Warrior Met spokesperson D’Andre Wright. “We believe today’s attack on our pipeline facilities was related to the ongoing labor dispute.

“As a critical infrastructure industry, it is imperative we protect our assets from acts of violence and vandalism to ensure public safety. While no injuries are known to have occurred, the threat to lives and property posed by this irresponsible and illegal attack is tremendous. We are cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation and expect those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The labor dispute is nearing its one-year anniversary on April 1. More than 1,000 members of the United Mine Workers of America began their strike that day a year ago, and rejected a tentative agreement later that month.

UMWA says the miners saved the company, formerly Walter Energy, after it declared bankruptcy in 2016. UMWA president Cecil Roberts said the workers made concessions equaling $1.1 billion in cost-savings, allowing the company to rebound, and are now asking for what’s fair.

Both sides have previously made claims that the other side has resorted to violence and dirty tactics.

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Roberts cited multiple incidents in which vehicles crossing through the picket lines have struck picketing union members, while Warrior Met has claimed picketers have damaged cars and company property and even got a restraining order preventing picketing within 300 yards of Warrior Met offices or mines.

Patrick Cagle, president of the Alabama Mining Association, called on all members of the mining community to condemn the attack.

“No one who shares the values of Alabama’s 21st century mining community would participate in, stand by, or stay silent about this dangerous, inexcusable attack,” Cagle stated. “Today’s events should be universally and categorically denounced. The mining industry prides itself on prioritizing safety above everything else, and this attack is ultimately an attack on what we stand for.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident should contact the FBI’s Birmingham Field Office directly at 1-205-326-6166 or through their website at www.tips.fbi.gov or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) through the ATF Tip Line at 1-888-283-8477.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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