Coal Tattoo

The man who ran the Upper Big Branch Mine for Massey Energy testified today that former Massey CEO Don Blankenship thought it was cheaper to pay safety fines than to prevent the violations.

Chris Blanchard, former president of Massey’s Performance Coal Company subsidiary, told jurors that safety violations at UBB were an accepted part of doing business.

“There was an understanding that a certain number of safety violations were going to be written that could have been prevented,” Blanchard testified.

Blanchard took the stand just after lunch as prosecutors continued the 11th day of testimony in their case against Blankenship.

A key witness for the government, Blanchard reached a deal with U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin that gave him immunity.

Mine Explosion Congress

The question of whether former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was ever inside the Upper Big Branch Mine was raised again yesterday afternoon and this morning, as the Blankenship criminal trial continued in U.S. District Court here in Charleston.

After we first raised this in a post yesterday morning, we heard more testimony on the matter from former Upper Big Branch fireboss Scott Halstead, as we reported in this Gazette-Mail story:

Halstead testified that Blankenship had visited the Upper Big Branch Mine, going on “one occasion” to the mine’s longwall section. On Tuesday, former Upper Big Branch miner Stanley “Goose” Stewart had testified that he saw Blankenship visit the longwall section of the mine. During his opening statement on Oct. 7, lead defense lawyer Bill Taylor told jurors, “You may be interested to know that Don Blankenship was never in the UBB mine.”

When cross-examining Halstead, defense lawyer James Walls tried to depict any potential visit by Blankenship as being to “a different coal mine,” because the visit Halstead had described — in 2001 or 2002 — would involved a different part of the UBB mine that was being actively mined during the indictment period (January 2008 to April 2010) and would have occurred prior to the UBB longwall machine being moved to a different Massey operation and then returned to UBB.

Still, though, Halstead said that he was assigned to a crew that was sent to “dress up” the longwall section before Blankenship arrived and, he testified:

They hung banners up and everything to welcome him.

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Lunchtime update

Blankenship defense attorney Eric Delinsky did a relatively quick cross-examination late this morning of Lisa Williams, the former secretary for Chris Blanchard, president of Performance Coal Co., the Massey Energy unit that operated the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Delinsky asked questions aimed at illustrating that Upper Big Branch was just one of the Performance/Marfork Coal mines that Blanchard managed, and that those mines were just part of a huge collection of Massey operations — all part of a defense strategy they hope convinces jurors Blankenship was far removed from any decisions at UBB.

On redirect, though, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin had Williams explain that the Upper Big Branch longwall was the only mining section or mine for which Blankenship required production reports every 30 minutes every day.

Prosecutors were preparing to call their next witness, but first were trying to have at least one Massey annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission admitted into evidence. This prompted a defense objection and a lengthy bench conference, so U.S. District Judge Irene Berger sent jurors for an early lunch break.

Massey Energy cut 17 workers from the Upper Big Branch Mine just a little more than a week before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, the jury in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship heard this morning.

Lisa Williams, administrative assistant for Massey’s Performance Coal Co. subsidiary, described for jurors internal Massey emails that outlined the cuts. She said the job cuts were made on March 26, 2010.

Prosecutors have tried to depict the UBB mine as having inadequate staff to comply with federal safety rules.

Williams testified that she could overhear Blanchard’s frequent phone calls with Blankenship and that after those calls Blanchard “looked defeated. He looked whipped.”

Williams is the government’s 20th witness and she took the stand on the 11th day of testimony.

Prosecutors hope to wrap up case early next week

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Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and his lawyers leave the federal courthouse on Wednesday. Photo by Ken Ward Jr.

After jurors left the courtroom for the day this afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby told U.S. District Judge Irene Berger that government prosecutors hope to finish presenting their case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship sometime early next week.

Today’s court session was short, with Berger not starting trial until 1:30 p.m. so that she could handle some matters in another case. For those who have asked, the judge did not call off court for President Obama’s visit to Charleston — and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin did not skip the trial for a day to attend the president’s discussion about West Virginia’s drug abuse problems.

The afternoon session continued today with prosecutors questioning former Upper Big Branch Mine fireboss Scott Halstead, who testified about the hazards he found doing safety examinations of the mine for Massey, as required by federal law. Ruby had Halstead explain to jurors both the sheets of his fireboss book which listed those hazards — frequently buildups of explosive coal dust — and how the page of the fireboss book that was supposed to list what steps had been taken to fix those hazards usually being empty.

Court continues at 9 a.m. tomorrow with cross-examination of Halstead by the defense.

 

This is an update from Ken, who called from the courthouse.

Defense lawyers for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship tried this afternoon to discredit the testimony of a federal investigator who found serious problems with the explosion prevention equip on the longwall machine at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine.

Keith McElroy, a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration investigator, testified about Massey documents that showed crews on the UBB longwall shutting down production to replace cutting bits on the machine.

McElroy was cross examined by Blankenship defense attorney James Walls, as the trial resumed this afternoon following a morning recess while U.S. District Judge Irene Berger handled other matters. Walls questioned McElroy about a series of daily longwall reports that showed frequent stops to change the bits.

On redirect questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby, McElroy explained that most of the longwall reports Walls had asked him about did not provide any information about the longwall water sprays. On Tuesday, McElroy had told jurors that eight of the required 43 spray nozzles on one end of the longwall shearer were missing after the April 2010 explosion at UBB.

McElroy testified Wednesday that the one document Walls asked him about that mentioned checking the longwall water sprays was referring to a day when coal dust levels in the area were being monitored.

Mine Explosion Congress

With the Don Blankenship criminal trial recessed until 1:30 this afternoon, there’s been time this morning to reflect. And in doing so, I noticed there was a fascinating little bit of testimony yesterday in the criminal trial of former Massey CEO Don Blankenship. It came when former Upper Big Branch miner Stanley “Goose” Stewart was on the stand and U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin asked him if he had ever seen Blankenship at UBB:

Stewart:  Yes, I saw him, he visited the longwall at least once while I was on, when I was on shift. If he came any other time, I may not have been there. I can’t answer that.

Q. Did you see him at the mine property?

A. I saw him on the mine property often. It would have been back ’96, ’97, for union organizing drives, and he was there on a regular basis, having meetings with the miners.

Now remember, back when lead defense lawyer Bill Taylor gave his opening statement in the case, Taylor told jurors this:

You may be interested to know that Don Blankenship was never in the UBB mine.

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Bits and sprays: Jurors get taste of UBB

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I’m just back from the federal courthouse here, having stayed over after the jury in the Don Blankenship case left to hear a short legal argument over just how much evidence prosecutors are going to be able to present about the clogged and missing water sprays on the longwall machine shearer at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger heard arguments from defense attorney James Walls — who wants to cut off this testimony or maybe even throw it all out — and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby, who spent the last part of the afternoon having a UBB mine disaster investigator teach jurors quite a bit already about the issue.

This all made for a touch of drama this afternoon, especially with U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration investigator Keith McElroy taking the stand just after former UBB miner Stanley “Goose” Stewart finished his testimony (see earlier discussion here and here) by explaining why he has been willing to speak so publicly about his own experiences at the mine since 29 of his coworkers died in that terrible April 2010 explosion.

“After what happened, I felt like the truth needed to be told about the things that went on there, and the reason that mine blew up,” Stewart said, wiping tears from his eyes.

To back up just a bit, while this case does not specifically charge Blankenship with causing the UBB Mine Disaster, three are a couple of interesting paragraphs in the superseding indictment (see graphs 21 and 22) which outline issues about the water sprays on the mine’s longwall machine. Regarding those issues, the MSHA accident investigation report on the mine disaster had this to say:

PCC/Massey could have prevented the methane ignition and explosion had it maintained its longwall shearer in safe operating condition. A longwall shearer is part of a longwall mining machine and has large rotating cutting drums equipped with bits that cut coal as it moves on a track across the working face. A system of water sprays suppresses dust as well as “hot streaks,” which are smears of metal found on rock when metal is heated to near its melting point from friction caused by the shearer’s bits hitting into layers of rock above or below the coal seam. PCC/Massey operated the shearer at UBB with worn bits and missing water sprays, creating an ignition source for methane on the longwall.

Well-maintained longwall shearers, which include sharp bits and effective water spray systems, protect against these kinds of ignitions and also control the dust during the mining process. The water sprays create air pressure to move methane away from the area where the shearer is cutting and prevents ignitions by spraying water to suppress hot streaks on the longwall face. At the time of the accident, PCC/Massey’s longwall shearer was cutting through both coal and sandstone with seven water-spray nozzles missing. As a result, the shearer did not have the minimum required water pressure. The ineffective sprays failed to move the methane away from the shearer bits and cool the hot streaks created during the mining process. As a result, methane ignited.

For more background on some of this check out previous Coal Tattoo posts here, here and here.

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Former Upper Big Branch miner Stanley “Goose” Stewart continued his testimony this afternoon in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Stewart engaged in a sometimes combative back and forth during cross-examination by Blankenship defense lawyer Blair Brown.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger scolded Stewart three times when he continued to answer beyond responding to what Brown had specifically asked.

Stewart testified about signing an agreement with Massey’s Performance Coal Co., which operated the UBB mine, that raised his pay from $21 an hour to $30 an hour. But Stewart said the agreement also would’ve prohibited him from working for other mining companies within 90 miles of UBB even if he left Massey over safety concerns.

Brown tried to pit Stewart against his former section former boss, Richard “Smurf” Hutchens, questioning Stewart about Hutchens’ testimony that he shut down coal production to fix safety problems.

Stewart said Hutchens tried to operate safely but was under tremendous pressure from Massey. Stewart said Hutchens would shut down production – sometimes.

Brown asked Stewart if Hutchens said otherwise, who should Brown believe.

Stewart responded, “I don’t know what Mr. Hutchens said.”

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Photo by Joel Ebert

Just before the jury in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship took its lunch break today, one of the better known miners from Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine took the stand. He introduced himself this way:

“My name is Stanley Stewart. Everybody who knows me calls me Goose.”

Questioned by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, Stewart described for jurors how miners at Upper Big Branch were told to take shortcuts — skipping key steps in the mining process, such as cleaning up loose coal and rock-dusting the mine to prevent explosions.

“You put it back in the coal,” Stewart testified. “You were told to put it back in the coal.”

I first heard Goose’s story in this article, written by then-Gazette reporter Davin White just two days after the deadly explosion at UBB.  He later testified to Congress and was interviewed twice (see here and here) by federal Mine Safety and Health Administration investigators looking into the UBB Disaster.

Testimony continues this afternoon at the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in Charleston.

 

A former upper big branch miner told jurors that he and other workers of the mine cheated on dust sampling that tended to protect them from black lung disease.

Michael Sean Ellison testified that mine managers told workers to wear the dust monitors in a way that would obscure real dust levels in the Upper Big Branch Mine.

“We would be told to put them inside our bibs – wear them covered up – to try to get not a true reading” Ellison said.

Ellison said workers were also told to hang their monitors in a fresh air intake of the mine so the monitors would be far from any dusty conditions that were around.

The charges against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship include an allegation that he conspired to fake coal dust sampling at UBB.

Ellison, the government’s 16th witness, took the stand after defense lawyers wrapped up their questioning of former UBB fire boss Larry Adams.

Blankenship lawyer James Walls had quizzed Adams about a long list of former UBB employees, trying to show jurors the mine had adequate staff for firebossing the operation to find potential hazards.
Adams then told Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby during redirect examination that the mine had five or six firebosses on day shift and three on evening shift – not nearly enough, Adams said, to do the job right.

Afternoon update: Mine supervisor testifies

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The former Upper Big Branch Mine superintendent testified this afternoon that the company added staff to clean up safety violations only after Massey Energy faced potential shutdowns under a tougher federal government enforcement action.

Rick Hodge told jurors that Massey also stopped producing coal on Saturdays to do more maintenance and try to avoid having Upper Big Branch put on the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration’s pattern of violation status.

An additional crew was also hired to better rock dust the mine, Hodge said. “The violations went down and actually the mine looked pretty good.”

Hodge said after UBB was removed from the list of mines being considered for POV status that all changed.

“We went back to running coal on Saturdays,” Hodge said. “The one rock dusting crew was taken away.”

On cross examination by Blankenship defense lawyer Blair Brown, Hodge said he was brought into UBB to try to improve conditions at the mine.

MSHA warned in December 2007 the mine could end up on the POV list if it didn’t improve. By March 2008, things had improved enough that MSHA removed UBB from the list.

Hodge said he left in July 2008 and that he did not believe the mine’s safety performance deteriorated in that time.

“I thought the mine looked good in my opinion” Hodge said.

Brown asked Hodge if it would ever be possible for a coal mine to have no serious violations.

“It’s not impossible but it would be hard to do,” Hodge said.

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Former Upper Big Branch section boss Richard “Smurf” Hutchens leaves the federal courthouse this afternoon for a lunch break from testifying in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Photo by Joel Ebert.

Defense lawyer Bill Taylor appeared to be laying the groundwork for controversial parts of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s defense this morning during his cross-examination of former Upper Big Branch Mine section boss Richard “Smurf” Hutchens.

Under questioning from Taylor, Hutchens agreed that the way citations are issued by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration can be inconsistent — that one inspector might write up a particular issue as a violation, while a different inspector might not. Taylor also got Hutchens to agree that MSHA had cited the Upper Big Branch Mine for making a ventilation change without agency approval, even though the change could have resulted in more fresh-air flow in parts of the UBB mine.

Defense attorneys have been hoping to make Blankenship’s personal beefs with the way MSHA regulated ventilation at the Upper Big Branch Mine part of their defense, but an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Irene Berger was supposed to keep that sort of argument out of the case.

Court broke for lunch shortly before noon, when Taylor asked for an early recess so the defense could research an issue before completing its cross-examination of Hutchens.

 

Testimony resumed today in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship with a former section boss at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine taking the stand.

Richard Hutchens told jurors that he was pressured to meet production goals that were impossible, given the poor conditions at UBB.

“I put the safety of the men first,” Hutchens said. “If we had bad top, I fixed the top first. That hurt my production”

Questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey, Hutchens testified that the conditions described in violations federal inspectors issued at UBB – excessive coal dust, inadequate air flow, ventilation walls crushed by deteriorating mine roofs – were typical of what he experienced at the mine.

Despite those problems, Hutchens told jurors, “My managers insisted that we meet a strict production of mining 250 feet per shift.”

Hutchens, whose nickname in the mine was “Smurf,” said he was threatened with losing his job if he didn’t meet that benchmark.

“I was always pressured that I wasn’t running enough coal,” Hutchens said.

Testimony was to continue this morning with cross-examination of Hutchens by defense attorney Bill Taylor.

Today the government filed a reply to Blankenship’s defense attorneys motion to exclude three audio recordings that have yet to be introduced in the trial.

Last week the defense filed an 18-page motion to exclude what they argued would be “incomplete or irrelevant” audio recordings.

They include one (recording 589) in which Blankenship criticizes Performance Coal Co. President Chris Blanchard for the way he is holding the telephone and another (recording 1260) in which Blankenship tells Blanchard to follow his instructions.

A third recording (recording 1535A) the defense is objecting to came from a conference call between Blankenship, Blanchard and then-Massey vice president Chris Adkins. The call dealt with employee benefits issues.

In their reply to the defense’s motion, the government argues part of Blankenship’s defense includes an argument that the Massey CEO was too far removed from the daily operations of the Upper Big Branch Mine to have any knowledge of the or complicity in the crimes he is charged.

The government cites the defense’s opening statement which said Blankenship had never been to the Upper Big Branch mine and that Massey was so massive that he couldn’t have known the details about what was happening at the Raleigh County mine.

“The detail and involvement illustrated by these recorded conversations tend to show otherwise,” the government says in the filing.

Turning to the three specific recordings, the government expressed willingness to play the entire 15-minutes of recording 589.

The excerpts of Recording 589 that the United States originally intended to use at trial only include the portions of the conversations regarding Defendant’s instruction to Blanchard on his telephone mannerisms. However, the United States is willing to play the entire recording if Defendant will stipulate to its authenticity.

On recording 1260 – the one in which Blankenship tells Blanchard to follow his instructions – the government says the defense is hoping to include a portion that could make him look better.

His excerpt is an attempt to include a passage that is, at best, mildly favorable to him. The ommission of this passage in no way changes the meaning of the exceprt the United States will seek to admit, and Defendant does not argue as much.

Because of the fact that the defense is not arguing that the omissions from the recording will mislead the jury, the government believes the Court should decline the defense’s motion to include the left-out portions of recording 1260.

And finally, recording 1535A.

Here’s what the government says:

“In Recording No. 1535A, Defendant instructs Blanchard to carry out Defendant’s orders to Blanchard’s subordinates, but to do it in a way that conveys Blanchard’s authority over, belief in, and enthusiasm for the orders. This conversation exemplifies the chain of command at Massey and UBB. To the extent Blanchard was giving orders to those below him at UBB, he was doing so at the explicit and detailed direction of Defendant. This conversation includes a discussion of employee benefits, but the relevance of the conversation is the hierarchy it demonstrates. Defendant has suggested that any orders to UBB employees to bypass safety measures or implications that production was prioritized over safety came from Blanchard as opposed to Defendant. This conversation shows that Blanchard had very little flexibility in the orders he gave, and that he was required by Defendant to give orders in a way conveyed to his employees that the orders were his ideas, when in fact they were specific instructions from Defendant. This conversation is also not unfairly prejudicial under Rule 403. It is probative of Defendant’s intent, control, and knowledge.”

Trial recesses for day; judge denies defense motion

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Don Blankenship leaves the federal courthouse on Thursday afternoon. Photo by Tom Hindman.

Today’s proceedings in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship ended, as U.S. District Judge Irene Berger said it would, at noon.

Prosecutors completed their re-direct examination of former Massey official David Hughart. Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg McVey questioned Hughart about a long list of Massey memos — previously introduced by defense lawyers — that depicted Blankenship and other Massey officials as focused on improving safety and reduction MSHA violations received by the company’s mines.

Hughart was not able to say whether safety improved at Massey’s operations following initiatives proposed in the documents he was questioned about, and said he was not aware of whether violations at the mines actually increased after the memos were written.

When asked by McVey if Massey officials were concerned about a lack of compliance with safety rules or with the cost of fines for violations when the company was cited for not complying, Hughart said, “The way I understood it, it was concern about the cost of fines not being accounted for.”

Hughart ended his testimony by saying:

It was always just a forced push for production. Sometimes they would take shortcuts to produce coal.

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Photo by Tom Hindman

While the media and the public have been back in the courtroom since the opening statements were given and testimony began in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, there are still things happening in this case that we aren’t being allowed to see or hear.

For example, the near-constant bench conferences to debate legal objections to testimony — often without any public explanation, even outside of the ears of the jury, of the resulting rulings come to mind.

But in following the recent court filings in the case, at least two other instances of secrecy have come up.

First, the transcript of U.S. District Judge Irene Berger’s closed-door, pre-trial motions hearing back on Oct. 6 revealed this comment from defense lawyer Bill Taylor:

All right. There is also a motion under seal which relates to an issue of whether you are going to admit certain evidence with regard to the witness, Mr. Ross. I have not heard the Government’s response. I don’t know whether they intend to do an opening statement, but it’s explosive, and we need to ask the Court to rule on that question before the Government makes its opening statement.

Second, buried in a footnote in a court filing from defense lawyers on Wednesday was this reference:

For reasons of which the Court is aware, see ECF No. 421 (sealed); Oct. 9, 2015 Tr. at 417, the defense produced this memorandum to the government on October 8, 2015. Tellingly, the government filed its motion to exclude that same evening.

As best I can tell, there has been nothing filed publicly which explains anything at all about the reasons for these records to be kept under seal.

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Former Massey Energy executive David Hughart testified on Thursday, Oct. 15 – Photo by Joel Ebert

A former longtime Massey Energy official testified this afternoon that Don Blankenship pressured him to produce more coal.

David Hughart, who was president of Massey’ Green Valley unit for 15 years, took the stand in U.S. District Court just after the jury returned for lunch in the criminal trial of the former Massey CEO.

“I’ve been pressured to produce coal,” Hughart told jurors. “I would get pressure from Mr. Blankenship and [then Massey vice president] Chris Adkins.”

Hughart testified that he frequently was not able to ensure that the mines he manages were properly rock dusted or ventilated.

“Sometimes we were shorthanded,” Hughart said.

Hughart also testified that he allowed workers to give miners underground advance warning when federal safety inspectors showed up at the mines he managed.

In September 2013, Hughart was sentenced to 42 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, admitted to conspiracy to violate safety standards and conspiracy to thwart MSHA inspectors.

Cross-examined by defense lawyer Blair Brown, Hughart admitted that Massey let him go amid allegations that he stole from the company through kickbacks and other schemes.

Hughart also admitted that he lied to federal agents when questioned about those allegations.

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Illustration by Jeff Pierson

As testimony continues in the courtroom in the Don Blankenship trial, a behind-the-scenes legal dispute is growing over what federal prosecutors argue in an effort by defense lawyers to make questioning the wisdom of federal mine safety regulations part of Blankenship’s defense.

It started last week with this motion from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s team, seeking to block evidence and argument about the proper (or improper) use of belt-air ventilation, in which conveyor belt tunnels in underground mines double as the main fresh-air intakes. The defense then filed this response.

And today, the government filed a reply in which they say this:

The United States anticipates, and the defense has represented, that Defendant will continue to attempt to question witnesses about this disagreement with the regulations.

Allowing Defendant to elicit testimony about whether the prohibition on belt air usage was proper defies this Court’s ruling in limine. In his response, he does not even address the fact that the evidence he seeks to introduce is evidence on whether belt air should have been prohibited at UBB. Defendant’s own labeling of this evidence as evidence of “disagreements between MSHA and officials at UBB and Massey about the proper way to ventilate the mine” supports the United States’ argument. A mine is ventilated properly if it meets the regulatory standards, including the standard prohibiting belt air without adequate justification. Disagreement over the proper way to ventilate is a disagreement with those standards.

To read more about the legal dispute at issue, you can read the government’s original motion on the matter and Blankenship’s response. When she ruled on the matter, Judge Berger simply said:

I also grant the motion in limine as it relates to claims that federal mine safety standards were incorrect, misguided, or imprudent. I think we all know that that type of evidence is obviously inadmissible.

This morning’s testimony at the criminal trial of former Massey CEO Don Blankenship closed with the questioning of another former Upper Big Branch worker, rock-duster Clifton Stover.

Questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabriele Wohl, Stover described problems similar to those previously testified about by other UBB miners whose job it was to spread crushed limestone around the underground workings to help prevent explosions.

“We had a lot of issues with the duster,” Stover said. “It got stopped up and wouldn’t work correctly. It would cut on and off. Every night you had to work on something on it.”

Stover also testified that he never saw any of the safety improvements — proximity detectors, better hardhats, new rockdusting equipment — that Blankenship and other Massey officials talked about in memos discussed by other witnesses under questioning yesterday from defense lawyers.

Cross-examined by defense lawyer Blair Brown, Stover testified that he only worked on the rock-dusting crew at Upper Big Branch for a few weeks and that the night before the April 5, 2010, workday shift he rock-dusted the area assigned to him so that it was “white as snow.”

“When I say that I’ve done something, sir, it’s white when I’m finished.”

But on re-direct examination by Wohl, Stover explained that he was only assigned to rock dust certain areas of the mine — and was not assigned to “outby” areas, or those not part of the working face of the mine. These outby areas made up a significant portion of the Upper Big Branch operation, Stove told the jurors.