MSHA: 15 Massey officials have taken the 5th

October 29, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials said today that “approximately 15 Massey upper management employees” have asserted their “5th Amendment right not to provide potentially self-incriminating evidence during the interview process” in the investigation of the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.

That tidbit — which increases from 11 to 15 the number of Massey officials known to have refused to answer questions — is part of a new MSHA update on its investigation of the April 5 explosion that killed 29 miners. Other information in the update:

— Massey’s accident investigation plan has been approved and the company began its investigation on Monday, October 25, 2010. The investigation is currently focused on the longwall face and tailgate entries. MSHA and State officials are also underground as Massey conducts during their investigation.

—  As of October 26, 2010, the shoreline of the water in HG22 is at crosscut 33. It appears that at this rate, it will take 2 more weeks to complete the pumping of HG22.

— The completion of the MSHA investigation is pending the pumping of the water in HG22 as well as evaluating the refuge chambers and testing the shearing machine.

— Testing of the electrical equipment is ongoing.

On the 5th Amendment issue, MSHA did not name the Massey employees and the Manchin administration has so far refused to release most of the names of those who have refused to answer questions about the disaster.

Stay tuned …

10 Responses to “MSHA: 15 Massey officials have taken the 5th”

  1. Walnutcove says:

    Maybe the whole of Massey should take the 5th and stop the entire investigation. I know Massey is very interested in determining the actual cause of this disaster, because they told the media and the miners who lost their lives, families so. These shenanagans involving the 5th Ammendment are just more confidence what a great and truthfull employer Massey Energy is!
    Just my 2 cents

  2. armored face conveyor says:

    Just wondering, how many MSHA inspectors who inspected the mine have been asked to testify, and have any of them taken the 5th?

  3. Linda Williams says:

    This is a witch hunt. Even Ron Wooten has taken the fifth in a similar circumstance.

  4. Thomas Rodd says:

    There are twenty-nine pairs of eyes and ears that are reading and hearing every Massey refusal to answer questions.

    The twenty-nine owners of those eyes and ears can see and hear, but they have no voices or hands but ours.

    These twenty-nine invisible observers can do nothing, but they remind us by their absence that in the end it is we who speak and act for them.

    What do we offer them, those silent spectators?

    At the moment, Massey and the people who are running Massey offer refusal and secrecy. Many others, however, are taking a different approach. Always remember those who are always watching and listening.

  5. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    armored face conveyor

    I do not have a number for how many MSHA inspectors who inspected the mine have been asked to testify … but I am not personally aware of any who did who have taken the 5th Amendment.


  6. Andrew says:

    I imagine that if the media were to wildly speculate on the names of the Massey employees who have taken the 5th, we the public would have confirmation of the actual names pretty quickly.

    Sometimes The Media’s job is not to be unbiased, but to advocate for The Public.

  7. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    With all due respect, while it is certainly the role of the media to advocate for the public — or at least to advocate that information the public needs be made public — I don’t believe it is the job of the media to “wildly speculate” about something like this. And in fact, I don’t think your strategy would have the effect you suggest.

    In addition, I don’t know if you’ve seen our previous coverage of this issue:

    We’ve already published some of the names, based on documents we obtained, and we’re working to try to get other records that will indicate the other names. As best I know, the Gazette is the only media outlet pursuing these records through FOIA requests.


  8. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    Armored Face Conveyor

    I checked with MSHA, and I’m told that 35 MSHA employees were called to testify in the investigation and none of them took the 5th. Ken.

  9. armored face conveyor says:

    Thanks for the response. Just curious, but any current inspectors, or mostly administrators?

  10. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    A complete list of all of those who were interviewed has not been made public. My impression, though, is that both current inspectors and administrators have been interviewed.


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