You are hereHuffington Post: Massey Rejects MSHA Findings On West Virginia Mine Explosion

Huffington Post: Massey Rejects MSHA Findings On West Virginia Mine Explosion

January 28, 2011- Massey Energy Co. on Friday rejected nearly every part of the federal government's theory on what caused the deadly explosion at its Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia last spring, killing 29 men.

The Richmond, Va.-based coal company doesn't believe that worn shearer bits, broken water sprayers or an excessive buildup of coal dust contributed to the blast, Vice President and General Counsel Shane Harvey said.

Instead, Massey continues to argue there was a sudden inundation of natural gases from a crack in the floor that overwhelmed what it insists were good air flow and other controls that should have contained the blast.

Traces of gas continue to flow from that crack, Harvey said.

MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere said investigators found no evidence of a large methane explosion. It appears it took only "a low volume methane and/or methane from natural gas" to fuel the ignition, she said.

MSHA presented preliminary findings from its continuing investigation last week, saying Massey records and evidence from inside the mine point to poor maintenance as a key cause of the blast.

Harvey acknowledged the shearing machine that cuts the coal may somehow have ignited the gas but said the company's own investigators haven't determined how. Massey won't issue its own report on the explosion until after state and federal investigators release theirs, he said.

Also on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Abingdon, Va.-based Alpha Natural Resources Inc. is nearing a deal to buy Massey for about $7 billion in cash and stock. The Journal cited people familiar with the matter which it did not identify. Recent reports have suggested that Massey is a possible takeover target for rivals such as Alpha Natural and global steel conglomerate ArcelorMittal SA.

The April 2010 blast was the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years and is the subject of both criminal and civil investigations, as well as lawsuits by some of the victims' families.



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