Independent study faults owner in W.Va. coal blast

By TIM HUBER and VICKI SMITH | May 19, 2011 | 9:59 AM EDT

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.


Associated Press reporter Lawrence Messina contributed to this report. Huber reported from Charleston, W.Va.



Independent report: