Moral Low Ground

Economy

Massey Energy Kept Fake Safety Records to Show Gov’t Inspectors

Federal mine accident investigators have made a stunning revelation about Massey Energy, owner of the Upper Big Branch mine rocked by a devastating 2010 blast that killed 29 miners.

According to NPR, Massey kept two sets of safety records detailing problems in the mine. One set, which was for company eyes only, listed detailed descriptions of safety problems and described how they delayed coal production. The other set was kept for the eyes of government inspectors and did not mention the problems listed in the internal documents. Moreover, the undisclosed hazards are exactly the same as those that are believed to have caused the April 5, 2010 blast.

Also, parts of the mine blasted by the deadly explosion were not treated for excess coal dust because they were inaccessible to the machine used to spray coal dust-neutralizing material. Additionally, post-explosion gas readings belie Massey’s claim that a naturally-occuring and unpredictable gas buildup caused the explosion.

The new details were revealed during a private briefing in Beckley, West Virginia for the families of the 29 dead miners. Some of those people then told NPR what they learned.

A spokesman for Alpha Natural Resources, which recently acquired Massey Energy, told NPR that the company had no comment on the new information.

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHSA) preliminary report on the disaster found that the blast was caused by a methane gas buildup due to maintenance and equipment failures.

The final MSHSA report on the disaster should be ready by this fall.

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