Entries in Massey Energy (2)


Mining Scandal: Guilty Plea from Highest Ranking Executive Yet

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(BECKLEY, W. Va.) -- Charges were filed Wednesday against a West Virginia mining executive as part of an ongoing investigation into Massey Energy.

David Hughart, former president of Massey’s Resource Group, was charged with conspiracy to violate mining safety laws, and conspiracy to impede a subsequent investigation. According to a release by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, Hughart has agreed to plead guilty.

The investigation spans a ten year period starting in 2000, during which prosecutors allege the company routinely ignored safety rules to maximize profit.  In April 2010, an explosion in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 West Virginia miners.  

The charges are not directly linked to the explosion, but due to a continuing long-term conspiracy.

“Miners deserve a safe place to earn a living,” Goodwin said in a release. “Some mine officials, unfortunately, seem to believe health and safety laws are optional. That attitude has no place in the mining industry or any industry. Today’s charges reinforce that urgent message.”

Hughart is the highest ranking official charged thus far in the investigation.  Booth Goodwin’s office said Hughart has agreed to cooperate, which suggests prosecutors are still working their way up the corporate ladder.  

Don Blankenship was Massey’s CEO throughout the period under investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massey Energy At Fault In Fatal West Virginia Mine Explosion

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An independent report issued Thursday blames mine operator Massey Energy for last year's deadly West Virginia coal mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 men.

The report lists three major safety violations:

  • Not enough ventilation to clear dangerous gases.
  • Too much coal dust which, when ignited, causes a powerful explosion.
  • Water sprayers on the coal cutting machine were inadequate. Out of 30 nozzles on one part of the machine, seven were missing. Of 23 on another part, nine nozzles were clogged. The spray of water would have prevented any ignition.

According to the report, the mining machine hit a rock and created a spark, which ignited a pocket of gas. The crew saw it and shut down the machine, the report says, but the fireball moved and hit the coal dust. It was not one explosion, but a series of massive blasts that spanned two miles of the mine, the report says.

While Massey Energy is the main party at fault, the report also criticizes federal and state regulators for "failing to use all the tools at their disposal" to protect the miners.

Of the 29 dead, 19 died of carbon monoxide intoxication. The other 10 fatalities stemmed from injuries caused by the blast.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio