Massey Energy Argues to Families That Natural Gas Triggered Explosion

Massey Energy Argues to Families That  Natural Gas Triggered Explosion

CHARLESTON, WV (HNN) – Massey Energy has shared results of its own investigation into the causes of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in April which claimed the lives of 29 miners.

Unlike MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) results which attributed the cause to excessive coal dust and noted inoperable water sprayers, Massey's findings maintain that a massive flow of natural gas caused the explosion.

By contrast,  Massey insists that data obtained after the explosion does not necessarily provide a snapshot of the venue before the blast. Massey officials argue that by brushing away explosive dust debris, evidence exists that the UBB facility was well rock dusted.

Here is the Massey Energy statement in full:

Massey Energy Company held a private briefing for the families of the 29 miners who died in the April 5 Upper Big Branch (UBB) Mine accident. Representatives from Massey Energy reviewed data readings, rock dust analyses, and photos from the longwall shearer and water sprays. At the conclusion of the briefing presentation, Massey officials fielded questions from those family members in attendance.

“Massey Energy fully understands its commitment in ensuring that the families are kept abreast of the ongoing developments in the UBB investigation,” said Shane Harvey, Massey Energy’s Vice President and General Counsel. “By sharing complete investigative findings on gas data readings, rock dust levels and the functionality of UBB safety equipment, we believe the families can develop a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the April 5 accident.”

KEY BRIEFING ISSUES DISCUSSED

  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) gas data readings indicate the mine experienced a massive inundation of natural gas into the mine from an external source
  • There is a crack directly under the shearer
  • A crack on the longwall face is still producing natural gas today
  • Shearer cutting into sandstone is possible ignition source
  • Missing water sprays were not a factor in the explosion
  • Shearer was equipped with 44 more water sprays than what was required by MSHA
  • The UBB Mine was well rock dusted prior to the accident
  • Worn bits on shearer did not lead to the ignition

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