Coal Tattoo

DOJ looking into inaction by Massey execs, board

Here’s another interesting tidbit from today’s MSHA briefing on the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster:

Top MSHA officials say that they understand that the U.S. Department of Justice is looking into allegations — raised in civil litigation against Massey and its board members — that the former Massey board of directors was aware of serious safety problems at Upper Big Branch, but did little or nothing to remedy those problems.

We’ve reported before on Coal Tattoo about court records that spell out a series of inactions by Massey’s board in the face of mounting safety troubles at UBB and other Massey operations, and about specific knowledge the Massey board was given about the lack of proper rock-dusting at Upper Big Branch.

During a press conference, I asked MSHA coal administrator Kevin Stricklin about these revelations, and if MSHA was including an examination of them in its UBB probe, and Kevin told the media:

That information is being looked at by the Department of Justice.

In an interview later, I asked MSHA chief  Joe Main if he was confident the Obama administration would seek criminal charges against any corporate officers found by investigators to have committed crimes that played a role in the mine disaster, and Joe told me:

I have every confidence that they [the DOJ] are carrying out a full and thorough investigation.