July 16, 2010
Upper Big Branch mine disaster may have been caused by dangerous, illegal practices
According to an NPR investigation into Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster, a mine electrician was ordered on February 13, 2010, to disable a methane gas monitor on a continuous mining machine, allowing the machine to continue cutting rock without a functional methane monitor. Disabling methane monitors on running mining machines is not only potentially illegal but poses serious risk of explosions similar to that which occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine on April 5, 2010. Four former miners, however, say that such practices by Massey Energy were commonplace.
Among the attorneys representing shareholder groups that filed suit against Massey Energy officers and directors, Motley Rice attorney Badge Humphries said in an interview with NPR, " this information, which appears to be misinformation, this policy … was promulgated by the management of Upper Big Branch. Where it came from above that remains to be seen."