A third major report has confirmed that Massey Energy didn't address the poor ventilation, coal dust buildup, and safety issues in the Upper Big Branch mine, all of which led to the explosion that caused the deaths of 29 miners. This one was carried out by the state of West Virginia, and though it isn't as strongly-worded as the two previous report, it still heaps the bulk of the blame on the mining company for failing to comply with safety ordinances.
The state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training generally agreed with three previous reports about how the blast occurred and about safety infractions that led to the worst U.S. coal-mining disaster in nearly 40 years.This story has faded from view even further than the BP spill, which occurred the same year, and which is already ignored by much of the mass media.
State investigators said they cited 253 violations and issued personal citations to two Massey mine foremen, whom they allege neglected to ensure explosive coal dust was properly cleaned up in underground tunnels.
In a nearly 600-page report being made public this morning, state officials traced the explosion to a small ignition of methane gas in the mined-out "gob" area behind Upper Big Branch's longwall mining machine.
Ken Ward Jr., the great reporter and Coal Tattoo blogger, took the media to task for letting the issue slip away. At the press conference in Beckley, W. VA where the report was to be released, he tweeted "Also - no out-of-state media here today. National Press has forgotten about coal mine safety already?"
It seems like they have.