Government Will Close Investigation Into Upper Big Branch Explosion This Week

by Erica Peterson on December 5, 2011

The federal government will release its final report into a West Virginia mine explosion tomorrow.

The explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in April of last year killed 29 miners. Last June, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said the explosion was preventable, and administrator Kevin Stricklin pointed out several major flaws in the Massey Energy-owned mine’s safety culture.

“A section foreman was fired for delaying production for about an hour to fix ventilation problems,” he said. “One of the victims was told ‘if you can’t go up there to run coal, just bring your bucket outside and go home.’”

Once the final report is released, MSHA’s investigation will be considered complete. There’s still an internal review pending into whether negligence on MSHA’s part contributed to the explosion. The Department of Justice is also considering whether to file criminal charges against former Massey executives.

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