Union report blames Massey Energy for UBB mine explosion

October 26, 2011

Triangle, VA – Massey Energy Co. is “solely responsible” for the conditions that led to the fatal explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine-South in West Virginia last year, concludes a new report from the United Mine Workers of America.

Released Oct. 25, the report, Industrial Homicide (.pdf file), describes Massey as a “rogue corporation” that acted without regard for safety and health regulations. Most of the report’s findings, such as malfunctioning water sprays, poor ventilation and inadequate rock dusting, line up with the May report (.pdf file) from the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel.

Both reports linked the explosion to sparks from a longwall shearer that ignited a pocket of methane. However, the UMWA report includes other information such as the discovery of a methane sensor, located near the shearer, that appeared to be new – implying that it may have been placed there after the explosion.

UMWA also criticized the Mine Safety and Health Administration for not shutting down the mine until hazards were fixed. Among several recommendations, the report calls for an independent review of MSHA District 4 and for Massey officials to appear before a grand jury.