UPDATE: Ex-Mine Official Sentenced In W.Va. Blast Case

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

UPDATE: 1/17/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A former superintendent at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners died in an explosion has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Gary May was sentenced to 21 months and fined $20,000 Thursday in federal court in Beckley.

May has cooperated with prosecutors in their continuing criminal investigation of the 2010 explosion.

He admitted to charges he defrauded the government through his actions at the mine. Those included disabling a methane gas monitor and falsifying records.

A plea hearing is set next month for former longtime Massey Energy executive David Hughart, who's accused of two federal conspiracy charges. Hughart's cooperation has been viewed as a sign that authorities may be gathering evidence to target officials further up the Massey hierarchy.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Updated: 5/19/2011 1:05pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - An independent investigation that blames the deadliest U.S. coal mine explosion in decades on owner Massey Energy Co. also criticizes government regulators.

The report released Thursday and commissioned by the state's former governor says the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration could have done more to force Massey to follow the law.

The report also faults West Virginia regulators for failing to recognize ventilation, coal dust and other problems at the Upper Big Branch mine.

The report concludes the April 5, 2010, explosion that killed 29 miners resulted from Virginia-based Massey's failure to follow safety rules.

MSHA chief Joe Main defended his agency, countering that inspectors issued thousands of citations at the mine.

Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says West Virginia has already made some changes recommended in the report.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

______________________________________________________

Updated: 5/19/2011 12:30pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - An independent investigation that blames the deadliest U.S. coal mine explosion in decades on owner Massey Energy Co. also criticizes government regulators.

The report released Thursday and commissioned by the state's former governor says the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration could have done more to force Massey to follow the law.

The report also faults West Virginia's mine office for failing to recognize ventilation, coal dust and other problems at the Upper Big Branch mine.

The report concludes that the April 5, 2010, explosion that killed 29 miners resulted from Virginia-based Massey's failure to follow safety rules.

MSHA chief Joe Main defended his agency, countering that inspectors issued thousands of citations at the mine.

West Virginia's Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training says it's evaluating the report.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

______________________________________________________

Updated: 5/19/2011 11:25am

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - Massey Energy Co. is disputing an independent investigation that blames the company's safety failings for the West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed 29 men last year.

General counsel Shane Harvey says Massey disagrees with the conclusion of the 113-page report released Thursday.

Massey still blames an uncontrollable inundation of methane gas for the April 5, 2010, explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine.

Harvey says Massey's experts are confident of their conclusions and believe coal dust didn't play a significant role in the explosion.

The report dismisses that argument, instead saying Virginia-based Massey could have prevented the disaster by following basic safety procedures.

Online: Independent report: http://nttc.edu/ubb/

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

______________________________________________________

Updated: 5/19/2011 10:33am

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration director Joe Main says an independent investigation vindicates his agency's findings in the West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed 29 men last year.

The 113-page report commissioned by the state's former governor says Massey's violation of basic safety practices caused the April 5, 2010, blast at the Upper Big Branch mine.

Main says the report supports MSHA's findings that methane gas mixed with explosive coal dust to cause the explosion.

The report dismisses Massey's argument that a gas inundation overwhelmed safeguards weakened by MSHA-ordered ventilation changes.

While the report criticized MSHA, Main says it shows MSHA wasn't meek about enforcing safety laws.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

______________________________________________________

Updated: 5/19/2011 9:05am

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - An independent investigation concludes the West Virginia coal mine explosion that killed 29 men last year was the result of safety failings by owner Massey Energy Co.

The 113-page report released Thursday says that Virginia-based Massey could have prevented the disaster by following basic safety procedures. Investigators criticize Massey for allowing vast amounts of highly explosive dust to accumulate in violation of federal regulations.

The report was released online at the same time that investigators held a private briefing for families of the victims from Massey's Upper Big Branch mine.

Investigators dismissed Massey's contention that an inundation of gas overwhelmed safeguards weakened by ventilation changes ordered by federal regulators.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

______________________________________________________

Updated 4/18/2010 12:07 a.m.

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- Governor Joe Manchin has ordered state flags at all state-owned facilities to remain at half staff this weekend in honor of the 29 miners killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Manchin's order runs until sunset on Sunday, when all funeral services will be complete.

Earlier President Barack Obama made a similar order for all U.S. Flags in the state.

__________________________________________________________

Updated 4/18/2010 12 a.m.

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- An independent panel will examine a Federal Agency's Internal Review process in the wake of the April 5th explosion that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal.

The U.S. Labor Department said Friday it has requested a team of occupational safety experts to analyze the actions of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been asked to identify the independent panel.

__________________________________________________________

Updates 4/13/2010 04:10 pm

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- Gov. Joe Manchin is asking a former top federal mine safety official to conduct an independent investigation of an explosion that killed 29 West Virginia miners.

Manchin told the Associated Press on Tuesday that J. Davitt McAteer will serve as his special adviser on issues involving the blast at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine.

McAteer headed the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration.

His probe will be independent of separate investigations being done by state and federal officials.

McAteer also led a similar independent investigations after the Sago and Aracoma mine tragedies in 2006.

Manchin is also calling for stepped-up scrutiny of safety violations that may have played a role at Upper Big Branch.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_______________________________________________________

Updated 4/13/2010 8:15 am

The bodies of the remaining nine miners killed in West Virginia were recovered.

All 29 miners killed in last week's explosion at a West Virginia coal mine have now been removed.

13 of the victims were removed on Saturday and seven others were taken out immediately following the blast.

The bodies are being sent to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner for autopsies.

_______________________________________________________
Updated 4/12/2010 @ 4:36 pm

Charleston, WV (AP) -- West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin flew back to West Virginia hours after last week's deadly mine explosion on a jet provided by the mine's owner.

Gov. Manchin said he was trying to return as quickly as possible after the April 5th blast that killed 29 miners. The governor was in Florida for vacation, and said a flight on a state-owned plane couldn't immediately be arranged.

Massey Energy owns the Upper Big Branch Mine. Manchin said company officials offered to fly him back while briefing him on the blast. The governor said his lawyer found that acceptable because of the emergency situation.

Manchin said he flew back with his wife and security detail. Richmond, Virginia, based Massey faces intense scrutiny and criticism over the mine's history of safety violations.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

__________________________________________________________

Updated 4/12/2010 @ 12:10 pm

WTAP.com plans to carry LIVE Monday's special wreath-laying ceremony at West Virginia's State Capitol to honor the 29 miners killed a week ago in the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County. The ceremony will take place at 3:30 pm (1930 GMT).

To watch the ceremony, simply click on the link below. Our live feed from Charleston should begin at approximately 3:15 pm.

(Link removed at 4:22 pm after end of ceremony.

__________________________________________________________

Updated 4/12/2010 @ 11:45 am

President Barack Obama has ordered U.S. flags in West Virginia to be flown at half staff in honor of 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion.

In a proclamation issued Monday, Obama said all U.S. Flags in the state are to be flown at half staff until sunset on Sunday 4/18.

The proclamation comes as federal and state mine safety officials begin their investigation into the nation's worst coal-related mine accident in 40 years.

Crews are still working to recover the last of the victims. Recovery attempts have been hampered by high levels of hazardous gases.

State office of Miners' Health Safety and Training spokeswoman Jama Jarrett says recovery of the last nine victims should be completed by late Monday afternoon.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

__________________________________________________________

Updated 4/11/2010 7:21 p.m.

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- High levels of toxic gas are keeping crews from recovering the last of the 29 miners killed in a West Virginia coal mine explosion.

State Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training spokeswoman Jama Jarrett says operations were suspended Sunday because of the high readings.

The readings are in an area of the mine where last Monday's explosion occurred.

Jarrett says crews will drill another hole to vent gases from Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine. Once gas levels are safe, recovery crews will be allowed to re-enter the mine.

Authorities plan to gather Monday to plan the next phase of their investigation into the nation's worst coal-mining related disaster in 40 years.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
__________________________________________________________

Updated 4/11/2010 3:11 p.m.

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Recovery operations continue at a West Virginia mine that was the scene of the worst coal mining disaster in the U.S. in the past 40 years.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration Spokeswoman Amy Louviere says recovery efforts were to continue throughout the day Sunday at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Last Monday's explosion at the Massey Energy-owned mine killed 29 and injured two.

One miner has since been released from the hospital. The second was taken to a Charleston hospital where his condition is not being released at the request of his family.

Authorities plan to gather Monday at MSHA'S Mine Safety Academy in Beckley to plan the next phase of their investigation.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

__________________________________________________________

Updated: 4/10/2010 2:25 pm

Charleston, W.Va. (Ap) -- Mine crews have started the solemn task of bringing the victims of this week's underground coal mine explosion to the surface.

West Virginia Medical Examiner's Spokesman John Law says several bodies were received Saturday.

He did not know when the remaining victims will be transported from Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine to Charleston.

Twenty-nine miners were killed and two were injured last Monday the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.

One miner remains hospitalized.

Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration Spokeswoman Amy Louviere said the investigation into the cause of the blast started Saturday with the collection of material from the mine.

She says a team of investigators will arrive in West Virginia on Monday.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

__________________________________________________________

Updated: 4/10/2010 10:04 am

Washington (AP)- President Barack Obama says more needs to be done to ensure mine safety.

He has asked federal officials to report to him next week on the cause of Monday's deadly explosion in a West Virginia coal mine. Officials have suggested a buildup of methane might have been to blame.

The blast killed at least 29 miners making it the worst U.S. mining disaster in a generation.

Obama had been praying that four missing miners would be found safe, but rescue workers say they found their bodies deep inside the mine.

Both the House and Senate plan to hold hearings examining possible causes of the explosion that killed the 29 workers.

West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd says he wants the hearings to assess the state of mine health and safety laws and determine what lawmakers can do to avoid future loss of life. Byrd calls it "infuriating" that such a disaster could still happen and says the country has laws and resources to keep similar tragedies from happening again.

Byrd says lawmakers will give serious scrutiny to the practices of Massey Energy Co., given the large number of safety violations at the upper big branch mine where the explosion occurred. Lawmakers plan to wait until rescue efforts are over before setting a date for hearings.
___________________________________________________________
Updated: 4/10/2010 12:55 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Authorities say crews have found the bodies of four miners missing nearly a week since an explosion at a West Virginia coal mine, bringing the death toll to 29.

Gov. Joe Manchin said, "The journey has ended."

Officials say the mission now is to recover all 22 bodies still inside the Upper Big Branch mine 30 miles of Charleston.

Seven other bodies were recovered after the blast Monday and two other miners were injured.

The raised death toll makes it the worst coal mine disaster in the U.S. since 1970 when 38 were killed at Finley Coal Co. in Hyden, Ky.

Authorities said early Saturday that they will start bringing out the bodies so they can be identified.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_______________________________________________________

Updated: 4/10/2010 12:50 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Authorities say crews have found the bodies of four miners missing nearly a week since an explosion at a West Virginia coal mine, bringing the death toll to 29.

Officials say the mission now is to recover all 22 bodies still inside the Upper Big Branch mine 30 miles of Charleston.

The new deaths mean it is the worst coal mine disaster in the U.S. since 1970 when 38 were killed at Finley Coal Co. In Hyden, Ky.

Authorities said early Saturday that they will start bringing out the bodies so they can be identified.

Seven bodies were recovered soon after Monday's blast.

The first funerals were held on Friday.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_______________________________________________________

Updated: 4/10/2010 12:01 a.m.

Five ambulances have arrived at the West Virginia coal mine where crews were looking for blast survivors.

Other than this bulletin, no further word has been given on the reason for these resources to be called in at midnight.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Updated: 4/9/2010 9:55 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Officials are saying they are close to a conclusion in the rescue attempt of four West Virginia miners.

Gov. Joe Manchin said Friday night that finality could come by midnight.

Crews are within 2,000 feet of the refuge chamber and prepared to make a run to the face to see if the miners are there.

Officials have said that's there only chance of survival.

It's their fourth attempt to find the four miners missing since Monday's explosion killed 25 others in the nation's worst coal mining disaster since at least 1984.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

__________________________________________________________

Updated: 4/9/2010 03:00 pm

Rescue Crews To Return To W.Va. Mine To Look For 4

Mullens, W.Va. (AP) -- A federal official says rescue crews will return underground to search for four missing West Virginia coal miners.

But Kevin Stricklin, an administrator with the Mine Safety and Health Administration, said Friday that he was discouraged that officials would not be able to see anything if they dropped a camera underground.

Officials had hoped a camera would be able to see whether a refuge chamber had been used.

The chamber is considered the four miners' only chance of survival.

Twenty-five people were killed in the explosion Monday.

Two survived.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

________________________________________________________

UPDATE: 4/9/2010 @ 9:53 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Rescue teams trekked far enough into a ruined coal mine early today to see that no one had used a chamber where four missing miners could have sought refuge.

The finding further dims hopes of anyone surviving an explosion that killed 25.

The teams encountered smoke and -- fearing fire -- had to turn back before they could check a second chamber, the last chance for the four miners' survival.

It was the latest gut-wrenching setback in a rescue effort that started with only the slimmest likelihood of finding anyone alive after Monday's blast, the worst U.S. mine disaster in two decades.

It was the third time since the explosion at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch mine that rescuers had to pull back.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_________________________________________________________

UPDATE: 4/9/2010 @ 9:24 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Gov. Joe Manchin is giving more details about where miners were at the time of an explosion that killed 25 people in West Virginia.

Manchin tells the Associated Press on Friday that two groups of miners killed in the blast were found on vehicles that take miners underground.

Previously, officials had only described one group on the vehicles, known as mantrips.

Manchin says the miners were "just sitting on the mantrips" and no one had respirators on, meaning the blast caught them by complete surprise.

Crews are still trying to get deeper in the mine to see if four missing miners may have somehow survived.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_________________________________________________________

UPDATE: 4/9/2010 @ 7:03 AM

Officials say rescue teams have had to pull out again from a coal mine in West Virginia where four miners are missing after an explosion that killed at least 25 people.

Federal Mine Safety Official Kevin Stricklin said rescue teams headed to a refuge chamber where they hoped to find the missing miners but had discovered signs of fire and smoke in the mine and were ordered to retreat.

It was the third time since the Monday blast that rescuers have had to pull out because of dangerous conditions.

Stricklin said it does not look like rescuers will physically be able to get to the refuge chamber because of smoke.

They may have to depend on cameras to check it out.
--------------------------------------------
UPDATE 4/9/10 @ 1:51 AM

Montcoal, W.VA. (AP) -- A spokesman for West Virginia's governor says rescue teams have headed back into a West Virginia mine to look for four miners missing since an explosion killed 25 workers.

Officials say they will also pump nitrogren in to flush dangerous gases out.

Gov. Joe Manchin spokesman Melvin Smith confirms that the teams were back in the mine early Friday.

Officials estimate it will take one to two hours to reach the first search area.

Federal Coal Safety Administrator Kevin Stricklin says levels of noxious gases had dropped but not enough for the crews to re-enter the Upper Big Branch Mine.

So they chose to use the nitrogen.

Rescuers are eager to resume the underground search in the slim hope that the men made it to one of the rescue chambers in the mine.
----------------------------------------------------
UPDATE 4/9/10 @ 12:47 AM

Montcoal, W.VA. (Ap) -- Officials say they will pump nitrogren into the coal mine in a bid to flush dangerous gases out and allow rescuers to reach up to four survivors.

Federal Coal Safety Administrator Kevin Stricklin says levels of noxious gases had dropped early Friday, but not enough for the crews to re-enter the Upper Big Branch Mine late Thursday night.

Crews will pump in nitrogen to neutralize the atmosphere. He says the process will take some time.

Rescuers are eager to resume the underground search in the slim hope that the men made it to one of the rescue chambers in the mine.

Teams spent more than four hours working their way through the mine by rail car and on foot, but had to turn back earlier Thursday.
---------------------------------------------------------
Updated 4/8/2010 @ 11:10pm

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- A federal safety official says more air testing is needed before rescue teams can head back into a West Virginia mine to look for four miners missing since an explosion killed 25 workers.

Federal coal safety administrator Kevin Stricklin says levels of noxious gases had dropped but not enough for the crews to re-enter the Upper Big Branch mine late Thursday night.

He says sampling will continue. If levels do not drop by ventilation, crews will pump in nitrogen to neutralize the atmosphere.

Rescuers are eager to resume the underground search in the slim hope that the men made it to one of the rescue chambers in the mine.

Teams spent more than four hours working their way through the mine by rail car and on foot, but had to turn back earlier Thursday.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_________________________________________________________

Updated 4/8/2010 @ 08:19 pm

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Gov. Joe Manchin is saying that conditions are improving in a West Virginia mine, but rescue crews are not yet ready to re-enter to look for four miners because gases are still too dangerous.

Manchin said the crews may be able to enter the mine later Thursday night. Rescuers are eager to resume the underground search after an explosion killed 25 colleagues.

But Manchin says the gas levels are still a little too high.

The rescuers spent more than four hours working their way through the Upper Big Branch Mine by rail car and on foot, but had to turn back earlier Thursday.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

________________________________________________________

Updated 4/8/2010 @ 07:13pm

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- A miner who survived an explosion that killed at least 25 people at a West Virginia coal mine has been released from the hospital.
Cathy Boyd, a nursing supervisor at Raleigh General Hospital, said Thursday that the miner had been released but his family has asked for privacy.
Earlier Thursday, Gov. Joe Manchin said the miner was in "total withdrawal" and doesn't want to speak to anyone.
Manchin also said the other survivor taken to a hospital was in intensive care.
Four miners are still missing at the upper big branch mine.
The identities of the miners taken to the hospital have not been released.

________________________________________________________

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Massey Energy chief executive Don Blankenship says the company will pay for the funerals of victims killed in a West Virginia coal mine explosion.

Blankenship told the Associated Press on Thursday that he spent 17 hours with miners' families a day earlier.

The blast killed 25 people and four miners are still missing.

Two survived and were hospitalized.

Blankenship says the families are very concerned and worried, but that they are "good people."

He has also been using Twitter to dispense information, though he says he doesn't read tweets.

Blankenship's mine has been criticized for safety violations and putting profits ahead of human lives. He has disputed the accusations.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

________________________________________________________

Updated 4/8/2010 @ 01:28 pm

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- A Massey Executive is saying that more drilling is needed to help clear a West Virginia mine of dangerous gases so that rescue teams go underground again.

J. Christopher Adkins, chief operating officer of Massey Energy Co., said he hoped to have rescue crews back underground Thursday evening.

He also says they have found an alternate route that should save time if rescuers are able to enter the mine again.

The announcement came about three hours after rescue crews abandoned the mine because of an increase in the gases.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

________________________________________________________

Updated 4/8/2010 @ 10:33 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Officials are saying that the rescue attempt of four missing West Virginia miners has suffered a setback because crews have met dangerous levels of gases underground.

Kevin Stricklin, an administrator from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, said Thursday that the rescue crews are in danger and they are evacuating the mine.

The crews got to about 1,000 feet of a rescue chamber before they had to pull back.

Officials have slim hope the miners may have made it to the chamber, where there is food and water.

Crews began working their way by rail car and on foot through the mine earlier Thursday.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_______________________________________________________

Updated 4/8/2010 @ 10:25 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Officials are saying that the rescue attempt of four missing West Virginia miners has suffered a setback because crews have met dangerous levels of gases underground.

Kevin Stricklin, an administrator from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, said Thursday that the rescue crews are in danger and they are evacuating the mine.

Crews began working their way by rail car and on foot through the mine earlier Thursday.

It's the worst U.S. mining disaster in a generation.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

________________________________________________________

Updated 4/8/2010 @ 9:49 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Rescue crews began working their way by rail car and on foot through a coal mine early today in the search for four miners missing since a blast killed 25 colleagues in the worst U.S. mining disaster in more than two decades.

Gov. Joe Manchin says crews entered the Upper Big Branch Mine, about 30 miles south of Charleston, just before 5 a.m.

They hope to reach the area where they might find the missing miners sometime before noon.

Rescuers had to wait to enter the mine until crews drilled holes deep into the earth to ventilate lethal carbon monoxide and highly explosive hydrogen as well as methane gas, which has been blamed for the explosion.

The air quality was deemed safe enough for four teams of eight members each to go on what officials were still calling a rescue mission.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

________________________________________________________

Update: 4/8 @ 7:05 AM

Moncoal, W.VA. (AP) -- Authorities say rescue crews are working their way through a West Virginia coal mine in search of four miners missing since a blast killed 25 colleagues.

Gov. Joe Manchin say crews entered the Upper Big Branch Mine about 30 miles south of Charleston at 4:55 A.M. Edt.

Rescuers had to wait to enter the mine until four ventilation shafts were drilled and dangerous methane gas and carbon monoxide levels dropped to safe levels.

Officials are holding out hope that the miners had somehow survived the explosion by escaping into airtight chambers with enough food, water and air to survive for up to four days.

------------------------------------
UPDATE 4/8 @ 3:06
Montcoal, W.VA. (Ap) -- Authorities say air quality is good enough to allow crews to search for four men missing in a West Virginia coal mine for more than two days since a blast killed 25 miners.

Federal Safety Official Kevin Stricklin says crews plan to go into the Upper Big Branch Mine by about 4:30 A.M. Thursday.

He says 32 team members are being briefed.

Officials are holding out hope that the miners have somehow survived the explosion and escaped into airtight chambers with enough food, water and air to survive for up to four days.

Authorities also want to recover 18 bodies of the known dead from the mine owned by Massey Energy Co.

Ventilation shafts that crews drilled allowed lethal carbon monoxide and highly explosive hydrogen and methane levels to drop.
----------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATE 4/8 @12:48

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) --The Massey Energy coal mine where 25 people died in an explosion was cited for violating two federal safety rules on the day of the blast.

Mine safety and health administration records show the citations were issued Monday.

Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater says neither violation was life-threatening. Kevin Stricklin, a top federal mine official, says he is confident the violations had nothing to do with the blast.

Records show one of the violations involved inadequate maps of escape routes from the Upper Big Branch mine.

The other involved an improper splice of electrical cable on a piece of equipment.

Gillenwater says that violation was fixed the same day.
------------------------------------------
Update Wednesday @ 9:39 p.m.

A federal official says crews are getting close to entering a West Virginia mine to search for four missing miners.

Kevin Stricklin, an administrator from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, said there is a possibility that rescue crews could enter the mine as soon as Wednesday night.

Dangerous gases have prevented rescuers from venturing into the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine to search for any survivors earlier.

The explosion killed at least 25 workers. Two people survived.

It's the worst U.S. mining disaster in a generation.

---------------------------------------------
Updated 4/7/2010 @ 5:20 pm

Federal inspectors at the Upper Big Branch mine cited the operators three months ago for having fresh-air systems flowing the wrong way near two escape routes.

Records obtained by the Associated Press show that regulators found that one of the systems meant to bring clean air to miners in an emergency had the air flow reversed. The mine foreman told investigators he had known about the situation for about three weeks without addressing it.

Records indicate the problems were fixed the same day.

Investigators called January's citation extraordinarily negligent. Mine safety experts say it should have been a red flag.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
_______________________________________________________

Updated 4/7/2010 @ 3:29 pm

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Congressman Nick Rahall says at least three workers from a West Virginia mine wrecked by an explosion have come to him complaining of unsafe working conditions since the blast.

Rahall said Wednesday the miners from the Upper Big Branch mine are fearful of losing their jobs so they wanted their identities kept secret.

Rahall says the miners were worried about unsafe methane levels in the mine before the explosion.

Officials believe the blast that killed 25 people Monday may have been caused by a buildup of methane.

Massey Energy Co., which owns the mine, has defended its safety record.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has appointed a special team of investigators to look into the blast.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

________________________________________________________

Updated 4/7/2010 @ 2:10 pm

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- A Massey Energy executive says federal officials are testing air drawn from a hole drilled into a West Virginia mine where rescuers are trying to reach four missing miners.

Massey vice president Mike Snelling told the Associated Press on Wednesday that officials with the Mine Safety and Health Administration were testing air samples atop Montcoal mountain.

Jama Jarrett, a spokeswoman for the state's mining agency, says rescue teams won't be allowed to return to the mine until methane gas levels drop out of the explosion range.

Federal officials ordered rescue crews out of Massey's Upper Big Branch mine early Tuesday morning when they measured dangerous methane levels.

Twenty-five miners were killed in the Monday explosion. Two remain hospitalized.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_________________________________________________________

Updated 4/7/2010 @ 1:45 pm

Mount Hope, W.Va. (AP) -- A West Virginia miner who was working underground when an explosion killed 25 people says he learned about the blast after the power went out.

Melvin Lynch told the Associated Press on Wednesday that he didn't feel or hear the explosion.

But Lynch says the power went out and the miners left.

Lynch says another crew told him they encountered flying debris and that's when he knew the situation was serious.

Four miners are still missing underground.

Lynch says he has been working in the mines for more than 10 years and he will return.

He says that's the way he makes his living.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_________________________________________________________

Updated 4/7/2010 @ 12:30 pm

Washington (AP) -- The Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration has appointed a special team of investigators to look into the blast that has killed at least 25 workers at the Raleigh coal mine.

The team includes safety officials from outside the district normally responsible for enforcement at the Upper Big Branch South mine where the incident occurred.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says the team will evaluate all aspects of the accident, including possible causes and the operator's compliance with federal health and safety standards. The team will issue a formal report on its findings and conclusions.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
_________________________________________________________

Updated 4/7/2010 @ 10:57 am

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Gov. Joe Manchin: Officials have decided to drill a 3rd hold in attempt to save 4 W.Va. miners.

Gov. Joe Manchin: 3rd hole in W.Va. mine will give officials a better chance to vent dangerous gases.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

_________________________________________________________

Updated 4/7/2010 @ 10:13 am

Montcoal, WV (AP) --There's been no response from any survivors to rescuers banging on pipes in the West Virginia coal mine where four miners are missing after a blast that killed 25 people. Gov. Manchin says rescue workers have finished drilling a vent hole in an attempt to remove toxic gas from the Upper Big Branch mine. Four miners are still missing.

The Upper Big Branch mine is one of Massey Energy's biggest underground mines. Massey operates non-union mines across southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia.

An Associated Press record review finds that new regulations to improve mine safety may be having the opposite effect. Mining companies have contested safety violations since the 2006 Sago mine disaster killed 12.

------------------------------------

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- The West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 25 miners is one of Massey Energy's biggest underground mines.

Upper Big Branch has more than 200 employees.

It is not uncommon for big coal mines to amass hundreds of violations a year -- and to contest many of them, as Massey does.

But industry experts say most big mines don't have as many serious infractions as Upper Big Branch.

Massey operates nonunion mines across southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia.

It has more than doubled its profit to $104.4 million in 2009 from the year before, despite slumping demand for coal amid the recession.

The company expects to be shipping 2 million tons of coal a year to india by next year.

Massey has managed to push the united mine workers union out of all of its operations except for a single processing plant.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

------------------------------------

Updated 4/6/2010 @ 11:29 p.m.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin says rescue crews have started drilling to release gases at a mine in an attempt to make it safe to search for four miners who are missing.

Manchin said Tuesday that rescue workers won't be able to explore the area until they are able to test the underground air for dangerous gases.

Chris Adkins, the Chief Operating Officer for Massey Energy Co., says he expects the drilling to be complete as early as noon Wednesday.

The underground explosion mMnday has killed 25 miners.

--------------------
Updated 4/6/2010 @ 12:06 pm

Montcoal, WV (AP) -- Gov. Joe Manchin says it could be Wednesday night before the first hole can be drilled to try to rescue four coal miners trapped underground in a Raleigh County mine.

Manchin said Tuesday at a news conference that he is going to have hope. An underground explosion blamed on methane gas has killed 25 coal miners. It's the worst U.S. mining disaster since 1984.

Crews are bulldozing an access road so they could drill 1,000 feet into the earth to try to find the missing miners that are feared dead.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

------------------------------

Washington (AP) -- President Barack Obama has expressed "deepest condolences" to the families of the workers who perished in the West Virginia mine explosion.

Obama opened his talk at an easter prayer breakfast by noting Monday's accident that killed 25 workers.

He said that "At this moment, there are still people missing. Rescue teams are searching tirelessly and courageously to find them."

The President also told his audience that he has told Gov. Joe Manchin "The federal government stands ready to offer whatever assistance is requested."

He asked those in the audience to pray for "Those who have been lost in this tragic accident" and said he hopes their families can "Find comfort in the hard days ahead."

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

----------------------------------------------

UPDATE 2:00 A.M.

Montcoal, W. Va. (AP)--Massey energy says 25 dead in West Virginia mine explosion in worst U.S. mine disaster since 1984.

Spokesman Jeff Gillenwater says four are missing and the rescue mission has been halted.

UPDATE 12:20 A.M.

Montcoal, W. Va. (AP)-- A mine safety administrator says 12 workers are dead and 10 trapped deep underground after an explosion rocked a remote West Virginia coal mine.

The explosion happened Monday at Massey Energy Company's sprawling Upper Big Branch mine about 30 miles south of Charleston.

Rescuers are looking for 10 more trapped miners.

The cause of the blast was not known, however, the operation has a history of violations for not properly ventilating highly combustible methane gas, safety officials said.

Kevin stricklin from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says miners were leaving on a vehicle that takes them in and out of the long shaft when the blast happened.

Stricklin says rescuers are getting closer to airtight chambers set up for miners to go if they become trapped.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

__________________________________________________________

UPDATE 12:05 A.M. TUESDAY

Montcoal, W. Va. (AP) -- A mine safety administrator says 12 workers are dead and more trapped deep underground after a explosion rocked a remote West Virginia coal mine.

The explosion happened about 3 p.m. Monday at Massey Energy Co.'s sprawling Upper Big Branch mine about 30 miles south of Charleston.
__________________________________________________________

UPDATE 10:03 P.M.

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Mine safety officials say the seven miners killed inside a Montcoal, W. Va. coal mine were leaving the site in a vehicle when an explosion occurred.

Kevin Stricklin, an administrator with the mine safety and health administration, says two other men on the vehicle were hurt.
Stricklin says there are 19 others unaccounted for, including two crews of nine workers and a fireboss who had been working alone.

The explosion destroyed all communication lines inside the mine.

Stricklin says there are two rescue chambers near the blast site that, if the trapped miners can reach them, are stocked with food, water and enough air to survive four days.

Stricklin says officials don't believe there was a roof collapse, but they don't yet know what caused the explosion.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
__________________________________________________________

UPDATE: 8:20 P.M.

Montcoal, W.Va. (AP) -- Massey Energy Co. says seven miners are dead and another 19 unaccounted for in an explosion at an underground coal mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia.

Massey CEO Don Blankenship said in a statement Monday that the company was working to rescue the missing miners. The company did not say whether any miners had been rescued.

State mining director Ron Wooten says the blast was reported around 3 p.m. at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston.

Charleston Area Medical Center spokeswoman Elizabeth Pellegrin says one injured miner is in intensive care.

The mine is operated by Massey Subsidiary Performance Coal Co. It produced 1.2 million tons of coal in 2009 and has about 200 employees.

_________________________________________________________

Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- The state mine director said six miners are dead and 21 missing following a West Virginia coal mine explosion.

Ron Wooten said initial reports are that the explosion occurred about 3 p.m. at Massey Energy's Performance Coal Co. Mine in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston.

Emergency crews are heading to the mine that is located near Montcalm.

Massey energy reported the explosion but did not provide details.

Wooten says he has yet to talk with anyone at the mine.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
TheNewsCenter One Television Plaza Parkersburg, WV. 26101 304-485-4588
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 89952577 - thenewscenter.tv/a?a=89952577