MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA—The recent federal indictment of former Massey Energy chief Donald L. Blankenship for violating health and safety laws is unprecedented says a West Virginia University law professor who contributed to a 2011 state report on the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that found the company directly responsible for the blast that killed 29 miners in 2010.
Massey owned the Upper Big Branch mine where a methane gas explosion spread through two miles of tunnel, killing the miners.
“Those responsible for managing mines in a way that caused multiple deaths were never held responsible,” Patrick McGinley, the Charles H. Haden II Professor of Law, told The New York Times. “It shocks the conscience.”
The explosion fed on illegally high levels of coal dust, according to reports, and federal prosecutors have accused Blankenship of ignoring health and safety laws to maximize profits while covering up violations.
McGinley served as a member of then-Gov. Joe Manchin’s investigative team that explored the failure of basic coal mine safety practices at the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.
McGinley is available to the media to offer commentary on the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, the indictment of Blankenship, as well as mine safety issues, black lung and the environmental impact of mining operations. McGinley can be reached via email at Patrick.McGinley@mail.wvu.edu or by phone at 304-293-6823.