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A preventable event: The story of the Upper Big Branch mine blast

Just over a year ago, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 men. The federal government called it the worst mining disaster in nearly 40 years, and amid the grief and anger there were plenty of questions, among them: Were safety rules followed? Had the government properly monitored for potential violations?

Now we have some answers. An independent panel appointed by the governor to investigate the disaster has reached a number of conclusions about who was to blame for the tragedy and whether it could have been prevented. Need to Know correspondent John Larson has those findings in this update of a story we first reported on last year.


Statement from Massey Energy

Statement from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (PDF)


  • hoarse

    Thanks for an excellent report.

    I spent years trying to make the media and the public aware of corruption within the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the FAA, the FMCSA, the ODAPC and the Inspector General’s office. I have proof obtained through their own top people about the tens of thousands of violations they left uncorrected while overseeing the testing for drugs and alcohol of millions of drivers and pilots. Our roads and our skies are as safe as each violation was ignored and paid for by the testing industry frauds.

    Obviously, the deaths of these poor coal miners triggered coverage that mere violations never could.

  • helmy elsaid elsaid

     Need to know the reasons to be sure about security,safety at future from such accident.