On April 5, 2010, Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mining disaster claimed the lives of 29 miners. Now an independent investigator, former MSHA head David McAteer, has found that Massey Energy operated in a “profoundly reckless manner and 29 coal miners paid with their lives for the corporate risk-taking.”
The report found that poor ventilation and improper coal dust and methane monitoring caused a small spark to turn into a massive explosion.
Massey Energy, now being bought out by Alpha Natural Resources, had an outlaw corporate culture that derided federal safety laws and placed profit and coal production over worker safety.
“The disaster at Upper Big Branch was man-made and could have been prevented had Massey Energy followed basic, well-tested and historically proven safety procedures… Massey exhibited a corporate mentality that placed the drive to produce coal above worker safety.”
Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship spent decades breaking unions, waging war against federal regulators and corrupting local and state political systems. Blankenship announced his resignation in Dec. So far, one Massey executive has been indicted on federal charges. Hopefully more will follow, including Blankenship.