Longtime Massey Energy Company executive David Hughart has been charged with conspiring to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and conspiring to violate mine health and safety laws.

According to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, Hughart and others at Massey conspired to break the law and then conceal those violations by warning mining operations when MSHA inspectors were coming. The case stems from the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners.   The U.S. Department of Justice claims that such illegal actions occurred at other Massey mines and spanned a period from 2000 through 2010.   “Miners deserve a safe place to earn a living,” said Goodwin. “Some mine officials, unfortunately, seem to believe health and safety laws are optional. That attitude has no place in the mining industry or any industry.” He said the charges reinforce that urgent message.   The investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI, Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The Justice Department says that Alpha Natural Resources Inc., which acquired Massey’s operations in a 2011 merger, is cooperating with the investigation

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Two Massey Managers charged

December 2, 2012

In April 2010, 29 mine workers were killed in an explosion in what’s known as the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in Raleigh County, W. Va. Today, federal prosecutors charged Massey Energy mine manager David C. Hughart with covering up defiance of safety regulations and resulting dangerous conditions from government inspectors. The Charleston Gazette reports that this is the “first time in their probe of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that prosecutors have filed charges alleging Massey officials engaged in a scheme that went beyond the Raleigh County mine….”

But in new court documents, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby allege a broader conspiracy by as-yet unnamed “directors, officers and agents” of Massey operating companies to put coal production ahead of worker safety and health at “other coal mines owned by Massey.”

It is the first time in their probe of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that prosecutors have filed charges alleging Massey officials engaged in a scheme that went beyond the Raleigh County mine where 29 workers died in an April 2010 explosion.