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MSHA report on deadly UBB mine blast admits further agency failings

09 March 2012

The US Mine Safety and Health Administration review of the Upper Big Branch coal mine blast in April 2010, which killed 29, contains evidence of further significant failures in the agency’s oversight of the mine.

A new mining plan that set the methane and dust control standards the mine operators were to follow, approved for the West Virginia mine in June 2009,  cut by more than half the amount of fresh air directed toward the working face of the longwall coal face in the mine.

Also, compared to Upper Big Branch's previous longwall plan approved three years earlier, the most recent MSHA approval required fewer dust-control water sprays and more lax conditions for spray operation.

Previous reports have placed the blame for the blast squarely with former mine operator Massey Energy Co., now part of Alpha Resources, outlining widespread company negligence, dangerous operating conditions and a leadership that valued profit over safety.

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