Massey wants to seal Upper Big Branch mine

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Massey Energy is seeking to seal the West Virginia coal mine where 29 men died in an explosion last year.

Company officials will meet with top brass from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration on Thursday, according to an MSHA spokeswoman, to discuss the plan to close Upper Big Branch for good. Spokeswoman Amy Louviere said other "interested parties" could be included as well, such as representatives from the United Mine Workers or West Virginia state officials.

A spokesman for the UMW said the organization plans to attend in its capacity as a representative for the miners in the investigation.

The April 5, 2010, explosion was the deadliest mine disaster in 40 years. The fallout from the explosion has included millions of dollars in losses for Massey, which is being acquired by Alpha Natural Resources.

Investigators believe the explosion was caused by an inundation of methane or natural gas and fueled by floating coal dust. Massey and federal officials have sparred over who is to blame, as the unsafe conditions could have been remedied with better ventilation.

The U.S. Attorney in Southern West Virginia has indicted two men on felonies related to the blast, and MSHA is set to release some of its investigatory findings at a hearing in June.


Daniel Malloy: dmalloy@post-gazette.com or 202-445-9980. Follow him on Twitter at PG_in_DC.


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