Massey Energy Company today announced that mine safety officials for the state of West Virginia have approved the Company’s plan to conduct its own investigation to determine the cause of the April 5, 2010 explosion at Upper Big Branch. The Company will begin its investigation as soon as it receives approval from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is currently reviewing the plan.
“Massey, as well as UBB family members who want to get to the truth, are very excited to finally have our experts view the mine together,” said Massey Energy Chief Operating Officer Chris Adkins. “We have assembled some of the finest experts in the world, but to date they have not been free to investigate in a methodical, scientific way. Now, however, we are very close to being free to conduct a thorough investigation that will provide the answers that the families deserve.”
To date, the Company has only been permitted to accompany State and MSHA officials on their investigation underground. In addition to directing the focus of the investigation on a day-to-day basis, MSHA has limited the number of individuals who can participate on behalf of the Company to one individual per inspection team. This has prevented experts in explosions, geology, mining engineering, electrical engineering and mining ventilation from collaborating and jointly investigating the potential causes of the accident.
Adkins pointed out that time is crucial. “Every day, evidence is deteriorating,” said Adkins. “We need MSHA to approve our plan quickly, as the State has done.”
Previously, MSHA’s lead investigator, Norman Page, testified that the Company would be allowed to conduct its own investigation after MSHA had concluded its underground investigation. MSHA reported last week that its investigation underground is approximately 90% complete. The Company is awaiting approval to investigate those areas already investigated by MSHA.