MSHA Watchdog Journalist Gets FOIA Records After 7 Years

October 20, 2010

Is the federal government covering up mine disasters? The Mine Safety and Health Administration was certainly not going out of its way to dispel that impression when it waited seven years to produce records sought by Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News.

Smith had asked for the report on an investigation done by MSHA's inspector general into the October 2001 spill of coal mining wastes that devastated homes and waterways in Martin County, Kentucky. Although most government agencies make IG reports available to the public, MSHA withheld or redacted major portions of the report. Only after Smith sued under the Freedom of Information Act were the documents forthcoming.