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Don Blankenship 7 articles

Former Massey Energy CEO Off to Prison In Wake Of Deadly Mine Blast

Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, was sentenced to a year in federal prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine for conspiring to willfully violate mine health and safety standards, which contributed to the catastrophic 2010 Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in West Virginia. Mr. Blankenship, an outspoken foe of safety, government regulations, and worker unions who often called some congressional leaders “greeniacs” and “crazy” for supporting environmental protections, received his sentence after a federal jury returned a guilty verdict on Dec. 3, 2015. During his trial, U.S. prosecutors called 27 witnesses to testify, many of whom were coal miners who worked ... Read More

Mine superintendent charged in deadly West Virginia blast

The superintendent in charge of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia at the time it exploded, killing 29 workers, was charged Wednesday with conspiracy for his central role in deceiving federal regulators who were trying to carry out safety inspections and impeding their efforts to enforce requirements that could have prevented the disaster. Gary May, 43, of Bloomingrose, West Virginia, is now the highest-ranking Massey Energy employee to be charged in the deadly explosion, which occurred on April 5, 2010 after mining equipment created a spark that ignited an accumulation of coal dust and methane gas. ... Read More

Final settlements reached in WV mine explosion, criminal charges likely to follow

Alpha Natural Resources, the new owner of West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch Mine, has settled with the remaining families of the miners who were killed in an April 2010 explosion, believed to be the worst mining disaster in 40 years. The 13 families who hadn’t reached an agreement with Alpha or the mine’s previous owner, Massey Energy, accepted settlement offers after more than four days of talks with a mediator, according to the Charleston Gazette. The 16 other families either settled with Massey before the Alpha buyout or reached agreements with the new owner. Details of the latest settlements, including ... Read More

Record settlement reached over Massey mining deaths, criminal charges may come

Alpha Natural Resources has agreed to pay $209 million in civil fines, criminal penalties, and restitution for the role Massey Energy played in the April 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that left 29 miners dead and several others injured in West Virginia. The settlement is the largest ever reached in connection with mining disaster, according to federal officials. Massey Energy, the company that owned and operated the mine when the disaster occurred, entered a downward spiral from which it couldn’t recover after the deadly blast and was acquired by its competitor Alpha Natural Resources last June. The settlement allocates ... Read More

After 8 industrial worker deaths in 4 months, OSHA vows to do more

Deputy Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a warning to the petrochemical and energy industries today, prompted by the deaths of 58 workers in just the last four months. Eleven of those deaths occurred when the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20. Fifteen days prior to the BP oil rig disaster, 29 miners were killed in a West Virginia coal mine explosion. That mine is owned by Massey Energy, another company with a long and troubled history of federal safety violations. In testimony before a congressional panel on workplace ... Read More

Massey Energy hires PR agency to revamp image after mining disaster

The board of Massey Energy, parent company and owner of Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died in explosion earlier this month, is seeking a public relations boost from a Texas-based firm with political connections. Since the tragic explosion on April 5, Massey’s safety record has come to the public’s attention, revealing a systemic disregard for critical safety measures that could have prevented the disaster had they been followed. The incident has placed Massey Energy and its controversial CEO Don Blankenship under fire from all directions. On the outside, federal regulators, safety advocates, and victims’ families ... Read More

Poor safety record, bad leadership caused mining deaths

Massey Energy, owner of the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, where at least 25 miners were killed on Monday, has had a long record of serious safety violations, many of which portended Monday’s tragic explosion and subsequent collapse of the mining shaft. Massey is the nation’s fourth largest coal company and the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia, with bituminous coal mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia. Despite the size and scope of its operations, however, Massey invests very little in protecting its workers. Between 2005 and Monday, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cited ... Read More