MONTCOAL, VA - Fifty-seven citations, including combustible dust safety violations, were issued a month before the deadly April 5 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine.
What’s more, according to the New York Times, Massey Energy Co., owner of the mine, was slapped with 457 safety violations and nearly $900,000 in fines in 2009. Among the infractions cited by inspectors were failure to follow mandated ventilation plans, allowing combustible dust to accumulate in excess of safe levels and a lack of firefighting equipment.
Dennis O’Dell, spokesman for the United Mine Workers Assn., told the Times that the company had appealed many of the violations, allowing more time for dust to accumulate. "When you look at some of those citations, it raises a red flag, because of the number of citations and the types of citations that were issued," O’Dell said.
Read UMWA's concerns about how federal agencies acted on Massey Energy's record of safety violations.
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