Massey Mine Disaster Raises Openness Issues

April 21, 2010

Several journalists have raised questions about why more was not known publicly about the safety defects that led to the deaths of 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine in April 2010.

The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward Jr. was one. He has asked whether the investigations into the causes of the disaster will truly be open to the public and the families of dead miners. The Labor Department has asked the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to lead one investigation.

Ward and others also note that a January 2010 Mine Safety and Health Administration inspection seemed to show ventilation problems that could have directly caused the disaster. Yet MSHA did not make the inspectors notes available until a week after the explosion.