The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration is about to brief reporters in West Virginia on its investigation into the Upper Big Branch explosion. But last night they met with the families of the 29 men who died in the mine in April, 2010, and reports of their findings are already leaking out.
NPR’s Howard Berkes is reporting major failures on the part of coal company Massey Energy to control the dust in the mine, and not enough methane in the mine to support Massey’s claim that the explosion was an ‘act of God.’ But NPR reports MSHA also revealed the steps Massey took, actively working to deceive federal inspectors:
— Mine owner Massey Energy kept two sets of records that chronicled safety problems. One internal set of production reports detailed those problems and how they delayed coal production. But the other records, which are reviewed by federal mine safety inspectors and required by federal law, failed to mention the same safety hazards. Some of the hazards that were not disclosed are identical to those believed to have contributed to the explosion.
Will be updated later.